The one thing that strikes the visitor about so many Spanish wineries in general, and especially those in Rioja, is the investment in architecture, living works of art designed by the world's leading architects. Nowhere is this more striking than at Bodegas Marqués de Riscal, whose hotel was designed and built by Frank O. Gehry, and which opened its doors on 1st of September 2006.
Surrounded by Tempranillo vines, the hotel's curved walls and titanium roof stand in contrast to the historic wine cellars designed in 1858 and the later 20th century buildings.
We were fortunate enough to visit the winery during the harvest when the vines were still heavy with grapes and the winery working at full capacity.
We saw how technology followed tradition with the harvest being brought in by hand and tractor, and then the individual grapes passing through an ultra-modern optical sorter before being lifted into the fermentation tanks.
Like almost all leading bodegas, a reservation is necessary to tour the winery and taste some of their wines, and Marqués de Riscal were generous both with the extent of the visit and the tasting itself.
After passing through the barrel halls and the bottling plant, we were ushered into a sunlit tasting room, and then, of course, to the shop where we continued to taste by the glass (and buy our bottle of choice).
No visit to Rioja is complete without a visit to Riscal, but if you can't make it to the winery, their wines are imported into Israel by the Shaked family and are available at the Derekh HaYayin chain www.wineroute.co.il
Photos by David Silverman. Copyright © 2016 dpsimages. All Rights Reserved.