Elena Adell is the winemaker who ensures that Campo Viejo wines maintain the style of traditional Rioja.
Is architecture in conflict with wineries? What does architecture have to offer a winery? Do wineries have to undergo mammoth building works? There are probably as many answers to these questions as there are readers…
What is evident, at least in Spain, is that for some time, Spanish wineries have been rebranding their image both nationally and internationally. There may be various reasons for this, although in the majority of cases, the lack of space has prompted the decision to carry out major or minor architectural work. There are also wineries which, in their time, were architecturally advanced and left a significant cultural legacy. They can be considered as treasures that have stood the test of time and compare favourably with the new modernist constructions.
Some, like Vega Sicilia or Can Ráfols dels Caus, have made significant changes which, from close up are unnoticeable to the public in general (wine consumers or otherwise). Other wineries have embarked on creating new spaces or have remodelled existing facilities, but they have involved major visual changes compared with their previous appearances. And there are some with construction work in full swing, like the Sierra Cantabria, owned by the Eguren brothers, which will be opened in the not-too-distant future
In this article, we are going to highlight some of the wineries which represent the categories mentioned above. The list could be longer, but the fact that we have chosen only a few is simply down to space…
Bodega Ysios is located at the foot of the Cantabrian mountain range in the town of Laguardia
The work of the famous architect Santiago Calatrava, this state-of-the-art winery, inaugurated in 2001, was built in one of the most beautiful zones in the Rioja Alavesa with the intention of making it a key 21st-century winery in the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin. It may be considered a work of art, as Roberto Vicente, winemaker at Ysios, says: “Calatrava designed it through a sublimation of the lines of rows of barrels similar to the interior, where the state-of-the-art design continues.”
The winery’s roof is made from natural aluminium, which contrasts with the warmth of the wood. The exterior, which can be seen in the many photos taken of the winery, combines concave and convex areas that enable “the effect of the sunlight on it to maximise the requisite sensation, which is that of the changing tones of the vineyards surrounding the complex”
Laguardia, the town in which the winery is located, is considered one of the best areas in the world for vine cultivation. Wines made at Ysios “reflect the refined artistic style that gives rise to select wines”.
BODEGAS HEREDEROS DE MARQUÉS DE RISCAL
Perhaps of all the wineries with modern buildings in Spain, Marqués de Riscal is the best known. Being one of the first to make way for modernity, and the fact that the architect is Frank O. Gehry (Designer of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao) has perhaps made it more famous than others.
It has to be noted that the Hotel next to the winery and the spa form the Marqués de Riscal ‘City of Wine’ in the town of Elciego (Rioja Alavesa). It is covered with spectacular sheets of titanium, which were painted in tones conveying red wine (pink), the netting covering the winery’s iconic bottle, the colour of its Reserva (gold) and that of the bottle top (silver).
In the eyes of the observer, it is a building which seems to clash with the landscape, but depending on the time of year, it is perfectly integrated into its setting; after the harvest, at the start of autumn, it offers a true spectacle.
Marqués de Riscal is a world famous brand. It is an example of a philosophy of doing things well and maintaining continuity, which makes its consumers loyal, very loyal, to the brand. As they told us at the winery, which produces 4 million bottles, Marqués de Riscal Reserva “is very good quality and consistent year-on-year. We sometimes talk a lot about Premium wines, but we don’t often think of those that are not as exclusive”.
In 1998, Bodegas Tradición was opened on Cordobeses Street in Jerez, restoring an old winery built in the traditional style of the region. It was then extended in 2004 and again in 2007 to reach the size it is today. All of these extensions were carried out using buildings that date back to the end of the 18th century and 19th century.
The oldest buildings reflect a distant period in the history of Jerez, with their low elevations due to the fact that at the time these spaces were dedicated to storing wine. As the business grew, larger spaces were required for making and ageing wines, in addition to storing them. This is seen in the most modern buildings with their high ceilings to accommodate ‘criaderas’ (‘nurseries’ for younger wines) and ‘soleras’ (oldest vintages stored on the ground) at various heights and to allow for greater air circulation.
With a production of around 20,000 bottles and high export percentage ranging from 60 to 80% of annual production, it boasts archives retracing the history of ‘authentic sherry’ with a picture gallery considered to be one of the most important in Spain in the winery shop. Of the 400 pieces in the Rivero family collection, over 50 are currently on exhibition. An idea by Helena Rivero, president of Bodegas Tradición, is to “exhibit pieces thematically and to tell the story of the development of art and its movements through the paintings”. El Greco, Goya, Velázquez and Zurbarán are some of the artists featured, which shows how important the collection is.
BODEGA CAMPO VIEJO
This winery was built near Logroño, with construction starting in 2000 and inaugurated the year after (2001). This modern creation is the work of the Riojan architect Ignacio Quemada. Like a masterpiece of Land Art, the winery is semi-underground which, according to its winemaker Elena Adell, naturally promotes “favourable conditions for ageing wine: darkness, consistent temperatures and humidity, quietness, with gravity flow for bringing in the grapes, and steady, natural ventilation”.
It is a functional and efficient modern facility with the spatial and environmental qualities of the most traditional wineries. Nestled within the landscape and respectful of the environment, “it is a winery that is faithful to its Riojan roots, but employing the most innovative winemaking methods. This provides me with the best conditions for obtaining high quality wines for wine lovers every year,” says Elena Adell.
In the words of its winemaker, Campo Viejo “is currently the Rioja brand with the highest sales volumes in the world and a presence in over 60 countries”.
BODEGA VIÑA REAL
State-of-the-art design and maximum functionality are combined in these magnificent facilities which were opened in 2004 in Laguardia (Rioja Alavesa). Philippe Mazieres, the renowned French architect, combines the concepts of man, nobility and modernity through concrete, wood and stainless steel.
It has a footprint of 30,000 square metres. From the outside you can distinguish 3 buildings: the most outstanding, in the shape of a barrel, is the winery. Standing 15 metres tall with its cutting-edge design, which does not prevent it from making traditional wines from the Rioja Alavesa region, it sets the tone for the winery.
In addition, two caves have been dug out, creating gigantic tunnels for storage: one for barrels and the other for bottles. The two are connected by a 3-metre tunnel.
The new winery was constructed to enable access for blind and visually impaired visitors, with signalling to facilitate a full visitor experience. To achieve this, plaques and special media, texts and infographics were translated into Braille to enable visitors to enjoy the winery. Because of these innovations and adaptations, the ONCE (The Spanish National Organisation for the Blind) awarded the winery the ‘Cascabel de Oro’ (the Golden Bell), which recognises this kind of initiative to enable access, in this case, to the world of wine for people with these impairments.
In addition to this recognition, it has won architectural accolades: first prize in the infrastructure category at the Expobois fair (France); and in 2005 the Best of Wine Tourism award in the same category.
Viña Real is a part of the CVNE group which distributes its wines in almost 90 countries in Europe, America, Asia and the Pacific regions. It is one of the few hundred-year-old Spanish wineries that are still in the hands of the founding families.
Carlos Villar, winemaker at Bodegas Protos, speaking on behalf of winery workers, states that “the contemporary history of Protos is indubitably marked by our new winery designed by the master architect Richard Rogers, in collaboration with Alonso Balaguer y Arquitectos Asociados”.
This 21st century architectural work was erected at the foot of Peñafiel Castle, very close to the winery’s old facilities in the heart of the Ribera del Duero region. The majority of the modern facilities where wine is made and matured are underground. The technology is cutting-edge which, according to the winemaker, allows them to “make quality wines”.
Since its inauguration in 2009, the winery has received over 200,000 visitors, making it “the most visited winery in the Ribera del Duero region”. In its 90-year history, respecting and enhancing the legacy of the 11 people who founded it in 1927 is the “main mission of the staff at Bodegas Protos”, according to Carlos Villar.
Currently, the Protos brand is sold in 96 countries and has gained great recognition and international prestige.
La Catedral del Vi, an old and modernist building which houses a very young winery in the Terra Alta D.O. (Tarragona)
LA CATEDRAL DEL VI (BODEGA PAGOS DE HÍBERA)
This is one of the most advanced architectural treasures of its time, as mentioned in the introduction.
Created in 1917 by César Martinell, a close disciple of Antonio Gaudí, it is a cooperative building located in the town of Pinell de Brai in Terra Alta (Tarragona). It is popularly known as the Catedral del Vi (Cathedral of Wine), and it houses the Pagos de Híbera winery. It is a modernist building and an architectural treasure of the 20th century.
The building’s main characteristic is its parabolic arches which support the roof. Standing 19 metres tall, it exudes a sensation of lightness and allows a lot of natural light to enter.
Apart from wine, the building was used to produce oil in times gone by. Today, it is managed by the winery created by brothers Joaquim and Fran López. Together with wine expert Josep Valiente and winemaker Josep Vicens, they make wines from grapes grown in the Gandesa and el Pinell de Brai farms, mainly from the Grenache and Carignan grape varieties, as well as Grenache blanc, whose production in the Terra Alta D.O. represents 35% of global output.
Santiago Jiménez - Photos: Courtesy the Wineries and Selectus Wines