Rioja’s Wineries: Modern Form Meets Classic Function


Rioja’s wineries include some of the most spectacular modern and historic architecture in the world. While the region is home to some (some other word than GREAT) older buildings, the bodegas constructed in the last 20 years have been particularly influential. Here, we’ll explore how some of the world’s most innovative architects, including Santiago Calatrava, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, who helped build Rioja into a destination for modern architecture.

Marqués De Riscal
Architect: Frank Gehry, 2006
Traditionally, wineries in Rioja are not open to the public, but Marqués de Riscal broke the mold – when Pritzker Prize winner Frank Gehry created the new structure in 2006, it was built as the center of a new City of Wine. The building is a series of rectilinear elements, clad in sandstone, combined with sweeping panels of gold and pink titanium, and mirror-finish stainless steel. The structure evokes a joyous ribbon wrapped around a present. Along with the winery, the complex is also home to a luxury hotel, restaurant, and the Caudalie vinothérapie spa.

López de Heredia (Vina Tondonia)
Architect: Zaha Hadid, 2006
To celebrate their 125th anniversary, López de Heredia rehabilitated an old store that the founder took with him to the Brussel’s World Fair in 1910, which had been sitting disassembled ever since. The new pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid contains the old store, as well as a tasting room. Hadid created a dramatic white triangular structure that serves as a “bridge between the past, present, and future evolution of [the label’s] world-famous bodegas.” Its avant-garde pavilion fuses modern architecture with the winery’s underground cellars, which are from an old railroad that connected the winery directly to Bordeaux in the 19th century.

Viña Real (CVNE)
Architect: Phillipe Mazières, 2004
The massive Viña Real was one of Rioja’s first modern wineries, and came courtesy of Bordeaux architect Philippe Mazières, whose father was a winemaker. To build it, a corner was cut out of a table-top mountain. Two tunnels were bored 120m deep into the remaining rock (called Cerra de la Mesa) using the machines that excavated the tunnels of Bilbao’s metro system. Then, a 56m-wide barrel-shaped building was sunk into the leveled-off corner. In the center of this twin-story circular room is a revolving crane arm that moves huge vats around, using gravity to pour grape juice from one to another, in a very winery-meets-Bond-villain-lair type of way.

Bodega Ysios
Architect: Santiago Calatrava, 2001
Bodegas Ysios was designed by Santiago Calatrava as a symbol of the new Rioja, and was inspired by the rows of casks used to age wines. It is named after the two Egyptian gods that are closely linked to the world of wine, Isis and Osiris. The winery building is a ruled surface wave that combines concave and convex surfaces, mimicking and blending with the rolling Sierra de Cantabria mountains behind it. The style of the interior is also very avant-garde.

Bodegas Baigorri
Architect: Iñaki Azpiazu, 1997
Built 35 meters underground, this winery was designed to harness gravity and avoid the use of hoppers, pumps or mechanical methods of any kind that might damage the grapes or the wine. As much a work of art as the wine it produces, Bodegas Baigorri is one of the landmark buildings in Rioja Alavesa. A glass box, empty to emphasize the environment, is fully adapted to the existing topography and the work carried out underneath its surface.

Rioja’s Wineries: Modern Form Meets Classic Function

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Bodegas Available for
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Bodegas Ontanon
European Cellars/ Eric Solomon Selections
Fine Estates From Spain
Folio Fine Wine Partners
Frederick Wildman & Sons
Grupo Bodegas Faustino
Marques de Riscal
Ole Imports
Opici Wines
Osborne USA
Palm Bay International
Shaw-Ross International Importers
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
The Artisan Collection
The Drink Collective
Vinamericas Selections LLC
Vineyard Brands, Inc.
W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd.
Winebow (MundoVino, a member of The Winebow Group)
Zamora Americas
220 Imports
A.I. Selections
ARAEX/Spanish Fine Wines
Arborway Imports
Ascent Wines
Assa Imports
Astor Wines
Austral Wine Merchants
Aveniu Brands
Baron Francois
BCG Consulting
Bodega Classica/Vintae
Bodegas Castillo de Mendoza
Bodegas Corral, S.A.
Bodegas Medrano Irazu
Bodega Nivarius
Bodegas Ontanon
Bodegas Pastor Diaz
Bodegas Patrocinio, SCL
Bodegas Riojanas
Bodegas Tobia
Bodegas Valdelana
Bon Vivant Imports
Boutique Wine Collection
Bronco Wine Company
C & P WinesBronco Wine Company
Carolina Wine Brands USA
Casa Ventura Imports, Inc.
Cerda y Llanos
Chartrand Imports
Chateau Armand
Classic Wines
Classical Wines from Spain
Cognac One, LLC
Coleccion International Del Vino USA (CIV USA)
Constellation Wines
Constellation Wines
David Bowler Wine
De Maison Selections
DFV Wines
Dionysos Imports
Divino Imports
Domaine Select
Dreyfus Ashby & Co
Eguren Ugarte
Elite Wines
Emporium Nostrum
ENYE Imports Group
Familia Martinez Bujanda
Felix Solis Avantis
Folio Fine Wine Partners
Folio Wine Partners
Francisco Selections, Inc.
Freixenet USA
Frontier Wine Imports
Garnacha Inc
GECO Global Group USA
Golden State Wine Co.
Grapes of Spain
Grupo Bodegas Olarra
Grupo Principe de Viana
H.A.B. North America
HGC Imports Inc.
Hidalgo Imports
HP Selections
International Wine & Spirits
Janet Kafka
Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd.
La Rioja Alta
Laurel Importers
Lionstone International
Lopez de Haro
Luneau USA, Inc
Maisons Marques & Domaines
Marfa Group
Marques de Murrieta
Michael Skurnik Wines
MJM Imports
Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd.
Murphy Distribution
Natural Wine Co.
New Age Imports
Noble House Wines
North American Organic
P.R.Grisley Co.
Parador Selections
Pernod Ricard USA
Pipeline Distribution
Polaner Selections
Protecom Wines Inc.
Regal Wine Imports
RM Distributors
RM Mabor
Romero & Miller, LLC
Royal Wine Corp.
Serendipity Wines
Signature Imports
SolStar Wines
Spain Wine Collection
Spanish Vines Imports, Inc.
Specialty Cellars
Steve Miles Selection
T Edward Wines
Tempranillo Inc
Terra Nostra Vinos
Testa Wines of the World Ltd.
The House of Burgundy, Inc.
The Marchetti Co./Scoperta Importing Co.
The Spanish Wine Imports
Think Global Wines LLC
Tradewinds Specialty Imports
Tri Vin Imports
United Cellars
United Wineries/MHW
USA Wine West
Vin de Terra Imports, Inc.
Vin Divino
Vinaio Imports, Ltd.
Vinole Wines
Vinos and Gourmet Jose Pastor Selections
Vinos Libres
Vintage Wines
Vision Wine & Spirits, LLC
Well Oiled Company
Wine Associates, Inc.
WineLite Imports
Winesellers, Ltd.