A tour of the Marques de Riscal winery
The Marques de Riscal Winery, at over 160 years old, is one of the most prestigious in Rioja, and complete with its famous ‘City of Wine’ building designed by Frank O Gehry, this is a wine tour you cannot miss on your holiday to Spain.
Marquis de Riscal was one of the first of the now historic wineries (bodegas) to be established in the Rioja region of Spain, after the devastating phylloxera (lice that infect vines) epidemic of the late 19th century in neighboring France.
Guillermo Hurtado de Amézaga founded the Marques de Riscal bodega in Elciego in 1858, with the first bottled wines released in 1862. In just five years the prizes began to flood in, seeing the estate become internationally regarded – and so it is to this day. In 1999 they celebrated their first Marqués de Riscal vintage: 1860.
The estate continues to innovate; more recently winning first place for their 100% organic Marqués de Riscal Sauvignon Blanc 2018 at the Eco & Organic Awards Iberia 2019.
During your trip to Rioja, you can go on a wine tour of this fascinating vineyard in Elciego, with its legendary ‘Cathedral’ and ‘1883’ cellars. Here they house a comprehensive collection of their own wines, living testimony to the estate’s perseverance and consistency over the years. Here there’s still a bottled vintage of 1862, and every vintage since. No wonder they bestowed the cellars with names that evoke such a feeling of a sacred place.
Marques de Riscal City of Wine
There’s another reason you can’t miss a visit and which the estate can be proud of – it’s that startling Marques de Riscal ‘City of Wine’ hotel building designed by world-acclaimed architect Frank O Gehry.
Like the iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Gehry covered the building with titanium, moulded into spectacular ribbons. Here however, the character of Marqués de Riscal is represented with the titanium sheets colored a glowing pink like the wine, gold like the mesh on the Riscal bottles, and silver like the bottle tops.
When planning the new building, the Marqués de Riscal team was hopeful that Gehry would take on the work. So they offered him a vintage from his birth year – 1929 – much to his delight! It was the first winery building that Gehry designed.
Despite its highly modern spirit, the building complements the surrounding Rioja landscape perfectly and makes a beautiful subject for many a photo.
The hotel itself is top-class and features two restaurants – the Marques de Riscal Gastronomic (Michelin-starred) and the 1860 Traditional, offering the ideal combination of tradition and avant-garde cuisines. You can dine as guests or non-staying guests – both are located on the second floor with spectacular views over the vineyards and Rioja hills.
What a perfect way to round off a fascinating tour of a winery that’s seen so much history!
A Rioja in Style wine tour can help you explore the Marqués de Riscal winery, as well as any number of the dozens of other famous wineries and historical sites in the region. Delightful wine tastings in the best bodegas in Spain.
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