A Distinctive Destination in La Rioja
The La Rioja wine country in Spain is known for its breath-taking landscapes and excellent wine products. In one of its pristine areas stands a world-renowned winery that has built an estate that best signifies its commitment to quality and distinction in viticulture. In the sprawling countryside, the Marqués de Riscal vineyard has quietly but virtuously pushed the wine lifestyle in Spain for more than a century, establishing standards that have helped put the region on the global wine map as one of the world’s most distinguished wine producers.
But more than its tradition of excellence, what makes the Marqués de Riscal winery stand out amongst all other vineyards in the region is an ornate structure that commands the attention of visitors and wine lovers, alike. Let’s embark on a journey to La Rioja’s “City of Wine.”
The Winery, Then and Now
The winery was established in 1858 by Guillermo Hurtado de Amézaga, and it is considered as the oldest of the La Rioja wineries. To date, it remains to be one of the most noble, successful, and multi-awarded wineries in the world, making its mark with a solid legacy in the wine industry.
Marques de Riscal was the first to introduce Bordeaux-style wine production in the region, and is also among the first to plant Cabernet Sauvignon vines in an area that is typically known for Tempranillo. De Amazega also holds the acclaim of being the first non-French winemaker to win the Diploma of Honour at the Bordeaux Exhibition back in 1895.
Before the winery’s 150th anniversary, they decided to reinvent the property dramatically, hoping to make it more inviting to tourists. They tapped the world-famous architect Frank Gehry to handle the project. Known for his striking and detailed structures, Gehry designed the hotel that was intended to be a contemporary and lavish retreat for its guests. He was asked to take on the project and was given a bottle of wine from his birth year of 1929, and he obliged. On the winery’s sprawling 100,000-square meter property, the building serves as a testament to the dedication and excellence that the company is known for.
The Gehry Project
The winery, located in the town of Elciego, embarked on this colossal project that was titled “The City of Wine.” It shines as the La Rioja wine region’s most iconic structure. The property stands as a symbol of the winemakers’ spirit that unites both tradition and innovation. The Marqués de Riscal Hotel was opened in 2006 and has since furthered the image of La Rioja as an enticing and sublime wine region for tourists to experience.
Gehry expounded on his concept, saying that the building’s exteriors were made to reflect the colors of wine. For this, he used pink-tinted titanium panels. The silver panels represent the foil that covers the wine cork, while the gold panels stand for the mesh on Marqués de Riscal wine bottles. The structure houses a five-star 43-room hotel with a special Gehry Suite, restaurants, a wine therapy spa, a viticulture museum, a wine shop, and gardens. At the heart of it is the cellar that has stood since 1858 that holds approximately 3,000 bottles of wine. One of its restaurants earned a Michelin Star status in 2011.
Like his other noteworthy and awe-inspiring buildings, Gehry designed zigzags and edges to give the building a distinct form that blended with the landscape of the vineyard. Much like Gehry’s work on the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the hotel is now recognized as one of La Rioja’s most inviting landmarks.
The Wines of Marqués de Riscal
The winery is known for its pure and mostly Tempranillo wine products, made from grapes harvested from the old vines of the La Rioja region. Its special Gehry Selection, considered the vineyard’s flagship wine, is made from 100% Tempranillo. The estate is also known for its Baron de Chirel, which is a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other varieties.
In addition, the winery also blends Tempranillo with Graciano and Marzuelo for its Marqués de Riscal Reserva and Gran Reserva, as well as the Marqués de Arienzo Crianza wines. For the Marqués de Riscal 150 Aniversario, they blended 85% Tempranillo with 10% Graciano and 5% of other varieties. They also have 100% Sauvignon Blanc and 100% Verdejo wine products.
The One of a Kind Experience
Guests of the Hotel Marqués de Riscal enjoyed the spacious rooms and stunning views of the hotel. In reviews of the hotel on TripAdvisor, guests loved the wide patios found in the suites that opened up to the vineyard. They also recommend ordering from one of the hotel’s restaurants and dining in the patio instead of heading out to enjoy the view.
Visitors also commended the outstanding service of the hotel staff, from the receptionists to the bellboys. They also informed possible tourists to take the tour of the vineyard for a more immersive and interesting experience of the property. With the magnificent structure, quality wine products, relaxing rooms, and admirable service, the City of Wine has everything one can ever ask for in a wine destination.