Cave d’Occi Vinespa Winery Resort

Kakudahama, Niigata


Design: Atelier Cosmos (Zushi, Kanagawa)
Takachiho product used on interior walls: Biocera

Kiichiro Ochi is the proprietor and chief vintner of Cave d’Occi, a winery set amid the abundant natural beauty of Kakudahama, a peaceful pastoral area of Niigata prefecture in northern Japan. The name Ochi chose for his winery gives a nod to two of Europe’s most famous wine-producing regions, combining the French for ‘Ochi’s wine cellar’ with the Italianate spelling of his surname.


Left: The wine shop displaying the Cave d’Occi sign lets visitors purchase and taste wines.
Right: Cave d’Occi is home to a number of cats.


In spring 2009, the Cave d’Occi winery added an onsen (hot spring) bath house called Cave d’Occi Vinespa. Cave d’Occi Vinespa is a multipurpose facility that includes a restaurant specializing in dishes made from local ingredients, a spa offering Aveda natural cosmetics products, and a guest house to accommodate visitors who want to spend all day exploring the vineyards. Cave d’Occi Vinespa’s interior walls were plastered with Shirasukabe plastering material, a Takachiho product made from the shirasu volcanic soil unique to Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.


The exterior of Cave d’Occi Vinespa was designed with care to ensure it wouldn’t clash with its rustic setting. Its relaxed look harmonizes well with the surroundings.
Photo: Atelier Cosmos


“The Cave d’Occi winery began from grapevines planted in 1992,” says Cave d’Occi Vinespa representative director Chieko Kakegawa.


“We decided to add a guest house so that visitors could explore and enjoy our winery’s grapes, vineyards and wine at their own pace. And since we Japanese are so fond of hot springs, we thought that adding an onsen bath house would enhance the experience for many visitors, so decided to build the Cave d’Occi Vinespa bath house and guest house. It may not be quite accurate, but we intended the name ‘Vinespa’ (pronounced ‘vee nay spa’) to sound Mediterranean to Japanese ears, meaning something like ‘grapevine hot spring’.  

Cave d’Occi Vinespa's outdoor hot spring bath lets visitors enjoy a refreshing breeze while soaking.


Cave d’Occi Vinespa’s elegant lobby design is a striking combination of wooden pillars and Shirasukabe plaster walls. The wide-open space has oversized windows looking onto the courtyard. Plaster finish: SN-11 soft hairline finish


When planning his new building, Ochi wanted it to have a welcoming courtyard in the center and to maintain the simple rustic feel of the setting.

He first heard about Shirasukabe plaster material from the project’s architects, Kenji and Etsuko Shiratori of design company Atelier Cosmos. The Shiratoris thought Shirasukabe would be a good fit for the project:

“Since Kiichiro is from Kagoshima, he was already familiar with the use of shirasu volcanic soil as a building material. The idea of using natural materials in the building appealed to him. We used Shirasukabe mainly in the building’s public areas. We’d heard good things about it. It has a warm earth tone color, does a good job of diffusing indirect lighting, and can be applied in interesting textures.” 


Top-left: View of the lobby from the second floor.
Top-right: The second-floor relaxation area was designed to be a comfortable space with a refreshing ambiance.
Bottom left: The first-floor restaurant lets visitors enjoy quality wines with dishes made from local ingredients.
Bottom right: Guest house hallways have high-mounted windows that admit natural light to create attractive shadow patterns on the Shirasukabe plaster walls.
Photos: Atelier Cosmos
Plaster finish: SN-11 soft hairline finish

Cave d’Occi Vinespa’s large vaulted-ceiling interior spaces still manage to have a soft, relaxed feel, with an airy atmosphere created by abundant windows that admit a great deal of natural light. The structure promotes deep relaxation, taking visitors far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a winery resort tucked quietly away within the great outdoors.


Left: Guest rooms have sliding doors set in Shirasukabe plaster walls. Guestroom interiors are designed for maximum serenity.
Top right: The Aveda salon uses plants to evoke an atmosphere of health.
Bottom middle: A spa room
Bottom right: The library room
Plaster finish: SN-11 soft hairline finish

We asked the Shiratoris about the concepts and design features they wanted to get across with Cave d’Occi Vinespa. The points below summarize their response.

‘Rural architecture’ was the desired overall look. If the city center of Niigata can be considered ‘urban’, Cave d’Occi Vinespa is located in an area that urban Niigata residents would certainly consider ‘rural’. Since Cave d’Occi Vinespa was to be a facility designed to let visitors unwind amid a vineyard setting, the Shiratoris wanted it to be a relaxation zone that would let visitors slow their minds down to the pace of the growing grapes. The construction materials therefore had to be organic. The structure’s theme of rural architecture for city dwellers was created by enabling the structure to harmonize well with its pastoral setting.

Enhancements: Tiled lean-to roof hidden in a pine forest

To ensure the building would harmonize with its environment, the Shiratoris opted for a tiled lean-to roof with a shallow angle. They used greatly enhancing natural materials such as a combination of batten weatherboards and Shirasukabe plaster with bottom details.

The planar configuration of the hollow square construction is designed to provide maximum shelter from the icy Siberian winter winds. Surrounding the atrium by four building wings creates a comfortable inner womblike space.

The structure features continuously adjoining walls, large wooden octagonal pillars and wooden beams. It supports a large continuous roof with facing north and south wings. The unbroken wood grain of the exposed components creates a feeling of security and abundance in the enveloped space.


Floor plan of first floor (click to enlarge)


Floor plan of second floor (click to enlarge)


Cave d’Occi Vinespa overview

Site area: 9,807.08 m2
Construction area: 1,718.43 m2
Total floor space: 2,277.43 m2
Number of above-ground floors: 2
Construction: Wood (large laminated wooden pillars and beams)
Design, supervision and management: Atelier Cosmos (Kenji and Etsuko Shiratori)


The Shiratoris chose Shirasukabe plastering material for its ability to breathe, ability to absorb odors, and unique texture. Shirasukabe is used on nearly all of Cave d’Occi Vinespa’s interior walls, creating clear air and a warm texture throughout the facility.

The Shiratoris say the completed project is about 80% consistent with their original vision. Shirasukabe’s limited color scheme possibilities and small discrepancies between color samples and actual colors account for the remaining 20%. They found that colors could appear different on different base materials. Since Shirasukabe is made from natural materials, it has a limited number of color tones. The shirasu volcanic soil used as its main ingredient can have different colors depending on where and how far below the surface it was extracted from. So while the completed Cave d’Occi project may have been somewhat different from the Shiratoris’ original vision, their 80% rating indicates a high degree of satisfaction.  

Cave d’Occi Vinespa is a new resort surrounded by vineyards. Its clear air and relaxing spaces create an atmosphere of supreme luxury. Visitors can enjoy hot springs, fine wine and sophisticated dining, or just explore its courtyard and vineyards for a refreshing change of pace.

Cave d’Occi Vinespa has vineyards as far as the eye can see. It’s a setting that encourages enjoyment and release from everyday cares, and needs to be experienced first-hand. Exploring the ever-changing moods of the vineyards and taking in the seasonal changes of the scenery at Cave d’Occi Vinespa make for the ultimate getaway from the urban jungle.

With other new wineries opening nearby, the world’s next wines of distinction might soon come from this as yet unknown area of fledgling winery resorts.


Cave d’Occi Vinespa

1661 Kakudahama, Nishikan-ku, Niigata-shi, Niigata, 953-0011 (within the Cave d’Occi winery)
Tel.: 0256-77-2226
Cave d’Occi Vinespa and its adjacent vineyard
The central courtyard



  • Categories