If you are a wine lover like us, you can´t miss the opportunity to visit the 148-year-old Herederos del Marqués de Riscal winery in the timeless village of Elciego, in the heart of the Basque area of the Rioja wine country in northern Spain.
Perched on a hill surrounded by lush green vineyards, the oldest winery in Rioja founded by Guillermo Hurtado de Amézaga in 1858 is known worldwide for the coloured curves of the hotel designed by the Canadian-American Pritzker Prize winning architect Frank Gehry.
Marqués de Riscal is recognized among “The 10 World’s Most Admired Wine Brands“ and is sold in more than 100 countries, with the U.S. being its largest importer.
Ciudad del Vino (City of Wine)
Since its unveiling in 2006, Frank Gehry‘s City Of Wine complex for Marques del Riscal winery has become a truly luxurious and contemporary retreat. Admired around the world, the beautiful building gives shape to the cellars’ spirit – innovation and tradition. This fascinating mixture of old and new is definitely what makes it so unique and special.
With 43 lavish rooms and suites, two exclusive restaurants managed by Chef Francis Paniego, a Vinothérapie Spa, a cosy roof-top lounge-library, and a business center for conferences and banquets, the Hotel Marqués de Riscal, which is part of Starwood’s prestigious The Luxury Collection, is the ideal base to explore the Rioja region.
Revered as “the most important architect of our age” by Vanity Fair, Gehri marvels the world once again with this architectural masterpiece. Speaking of the inspiration behind the complex´s surface, the sought-after architect explained that his aim was to reflect the colours of wine -with pink to represent the burgundy hues of rioja, gold to evoke the netting of the Riscal bottle and silver to suggest the foil that covers the cork.
With its zigzag windows, tilted walls and cathedral-height ceilings, the multi-coloured ribbon-like titanium facade, which makes an impression from the moment you set eyes on it, offers a dramatic and stunning contrast to the sleepy medieval village that nestles alongside it.
Guided Winery Tour
The 90-minute tour of the bodega starts with the stainless-steel fermentation vats, then through the century-old stone cellar “La Catedral“, and finishes up in the well-appointed tasting room, which is conveniently located next to the shop. Our guide gave an impeccable explanation of the entire winemaking process from the vineyard planting and harvesting to the bottling of wine.
The Historical Cellar “La Catedral“
Beneath the five-star boutique hotel and the Michelin-starred Marqués de Riscal Restaurant, the dark, damp cellar contains three centuries’ worth of vintages, going back as far as 1862.
Ysios Vine Cellar (Laguardia)
As we leisurely wound through the lanes of Rioja Alavesa, we stopped for a while to admire the impressive curvilinear metallic structure of Ysios Wine Cellar in the neighbouring village of Laguardia. Designed by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, the wave-like building sets against the breathtaking backdrop of the Cantabrian Mountains.