Be prepared to be blown away by the ground-breaking architecture and designs that several of Rioja’s most famous wineries have employed on their estates.
Where to go in Rioja: iconic architecture
You may be surprised to discover that La Rioja region of Spain is becoming increasingly known for its avant-garde architecture and design from the 20th and 21st centuries. On your Rioja in Style wine tour, we can arrange for you to visit these startling buildings.
It was the Marques de Riscal hotel that first put Rioja in the limelight of the design world. It is the only hotel designed by Frank Gehry, who of course is famous for Bilbao’s Guggenheim and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Gehry explains the inspiration behind the complexity of the the Marques de Riscal hotel building, that his aim was to reflect the character of the Rioja region and its famous vintage. And it is impressive – the hotel’s facade is constructed of giant titanium ribbons, in sha des representing the pink hues of Rioja wine, the silver foil that would shield the cork, and the gold mesh which distinctively adorns all Marqués de Riscal bottles.
Elsewhere, more contemporary architecture that honours Rioja wine and provides up-to-the-minute technology is the Campo Viejo Winery, designed by Ignacio Quemada. It’s the biggest wine ageing cellar in Europe, and has won an award for its integration with the landscape in La Rioja. The slick and modern visitors’ centre overlooks the vineyard, mimicking a château, whilst the wine cellar was built underground in honour of traditional cellars, and is built into the hill like a work of art.
The Ysios Winery (Bodegas) wanted a building to represent its most prestigious wines from Rioja Alavesa as well as the spaces needed to produce, store and sell wine. The resulting building designed by Santiago Calatrava as a ‘temple dedicated to wine’ is a sight to behold. Its facade and roof made of dramatic waves with pronounced grade changes of as much as 10 meters from the highest level in the north, to the lowest in the south, and allowing for continuity with the vineyards outside.
Horizontally placed cedar slats, reflected in white-ceramic pools, resemble a row of wine barrels, and the aluminum roof panelling contrasts with the warm wood of the facade. The visitors centre serves as a balcony overlooking the winery and the vineyards and a granite bridge crosses the pools to the vineyards.
At the López de Heredia Winery (Bodega), you can find the stunning Zaha Hadid stand. The family’s original modernist stand was restored but needed to be protected from the elements, so they commissioned Hadid to create a design to celebrate the winery’s 125th anniversary, and it was used in the Food and Drink Fair of Barcelona. It now enhances the winery, providing a shop, entertainment and exhibition area.
Finally, the Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE) family winery features a cellar designed by the famous French architect Aleixandre Gustave Eiffel. Truly revolutionary, the imposing structure uses an innovative construction with no supporting columns, but steel trusses running from wall to wall, allowing for a large open space. This enables easy moving and monitoring of those all-important barrels in the wine cellar.