November 15, 2021 (Chapel Hill, NC) — Paula de Pano, a celebrated sommelier who served as beverage director for Fearrington House Inn and Fearrington Village in Pittsboro for nine years, hired pod architecture + design to design Rocks & Acid, her own wine shop and tasting room in Chapel Hill’s Southern Village neighborhood. She expects to open by Spring 2022.
A native of Manila, Paula de Pano is a recognized leader in her industry. Wine Enthusiast declared her one of the “Five Filipino and Filipino-American Sommeliers helping to change the narrative in the United States.” The name she selected for her 1550-square-foot shop heralds a plot twist in that narrative by showcasing the terroir and acid-focused wines she will feature among the 350 to 500 labels she’ll stock
The ethos behind de Pano’s inventory will be wine producers committed to ethical production practices and environmental stewardship. And that aspiration led her to Doug Pierson, AIA, and Youn Choi, the founding partners and principal designers at pod architecture + design (pod a+d)
“I like that they’re environmentally conscious in how they design their spaces,” de Pano said recently, noting that she was also drawn to “the airiness and openness of the layouts of their projects.”
During their initial meetings, the husband-wife duo understood their client’s intentions. Eschewing bottles-in-cases a la grocery store marketing, she will focus on the individuality of wines, relying upon her expertise as a seasoned sommelier. Her shop will be a place where people can meet and linger over wine and artisanal breads, cheeses, and other culinary treats. And the wine tastings and educational classes she hosts will be social, community events. Therefore, the physical space must provide a warm, welcoming experience for all customers, from the mildly curious to veteran epicureans, with thoughtful, accessible displays in a bright, spacious setting.
The design team’s response is inspired by de Pano’s fresh ideas about the wine shop experience as well as the architectural concept “sense of place” suggested by the French term terroir. To wit, Rocks & Acid should also embrace its place within Southern Village.
“A bottle of wine is more than a grape on the vine. It is a diamond in the rough. It’s journey from soil to fermentation is a raw process that produces something precious. “Youn Choi, principal designer, pod a+d
“A bottle of wine is more than a grape on the vine. It is a diamond in the rough,” said designer Youn Choi, whose myriad accomplishments in experiential design provided the spirit of pod a+d’s design solution for the wine shop. “It’s journey from soil to fermentation is a raw process that produces something precious. Far different than the grocery store environment, this new wine shop retains the raw core and shell of its surrounding building while introducing a delicate and helpful display space that invites curiosity and immersion.”
Her client approves: “I love how they’re able to bring outside elements of Southern Village into the shop, making it more cohesive and welcoming.”
To create an indoor-outdoor milieu that will draw customers toward a visibly unique experience devoid of sales pressure marketing, pod a+d’s design proposes a patio out on the sidewalk with open-air service from inside when the garage door-style window/wall is raised. A simple wooden slat-covered walkway announces the actual entrance to the shop beyond a pair of tall glass doors. The abundance of glass at the front allows natural light to penetrate the interior while maintaining connectivity with the Village and passersby.
Inside, the retail space’s polished concrete floor (one of many sustainable features) spreads out under the two-story-clear ceiling. Pale wood display units rise quietly along the outer walls. Exposed beams of the same pale wood continue overhead. At the center of this clean, clear space is a large communal table that will seat 20 for tastings, educational events, and casual conversation during business hours.
Rocks & Acid is located at 712 Market Street, Southern Village, Chapel Hill. For more information on Paula de Pano and her shop, click here.
For more information on pod a+d, visit the firm’s website: podand.com.