Architecture and wine

Architecture and wine

Many Spanish bodegas (wineries) have lately been involved in a fascinating process of modernisation. The main bodegueras have opted for twenty-first century architecture, creating great works of art whose ambition goes well beyond the classical tasks of the storage and ageing of wine.

Architecture and wine have always enjoyed an idyllic relationship and this is now experiencing a magnificent revival. In Spain and particularly in La Rioja, the jewel in the crown of the country’s wine-growing tradition and production, some of the finest examples can be found of this symbiosis between state-of-the-art architecture and the traditional craft of wine making. Proof of this is the Bodegas Baigorri at Samaniego in Álava, work of the architect Iñaki Aspiazu. Most of its functional parts are hidden below ground, leaving only a large glass box visible on the surface. This magical structure is circled by an elegant mirror of water, and gives visitors spectacular panoramic views over the vine fields that stretch out on every side.

Staying with La Rioja and still in Álava, this time Laguardia, is the Ysios winery. When planning the project, world-famous architect Santiago Calatrava envisaged a long, slim building which when seen from above is shaped like a wine glass. With an avant-garde design that fits perfectly into the countryside around it, this emblematic building has already become a symbol of La Rioja’s wine producing sector.

Ribera del Duero can also boast some decidedly avant-garde wineries. One of these is Bodegas Portia, designed by eminent architect Norman Foster. Its 12,500 square metres extending over three floors form a great star of concrete, steel, oak and glass. Though its crowning achievement is not its design but the sheer functionality of the project, taking full advantage of the geographical features of the site.

The Protos winery in Peñafiel is another magnificent example of Modernism. Designed by Richard Rogers with Alonso Balaguer and Arquitectos Asociados, it represents a formidable reinterpretation of the region’s traditional wineries. Its vaulted ceilings supported by great laminated wood arches are its most striking visual feature. But it’s not just beautiful: the building was also designed to facilitate the transmission of thermal heat from the ground and to reduce the effects of solar radiation and other extremes of climate at different seasons of the year.

The Cepa 21, Pagos del Rey and Legaris wineries, to name but a few, are other marvellous examples of this love affair between wine and avant-garde architecture.