Music + Wine = MUWI, the Rioja Music Fest

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Five years ago, local entrepreneurs and music lovers Jose Pancorbo and Rafael Bezares weren’t sure if they wanted to create a special music festival or a special wine festival.  So they created both: MUWI La Rioja Music Fest, an annual event that fuses music, Rioja wine and tourism.  This unique focus earned the event a 2019 ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ award for Art and Culture from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.

With the experience of four editions of MUWI, Pancorbo, Bezares and marketing and branding specialist Ricardo Moreno have chosen the artists performing at the festival to attract an audience mainly from 25 to 45 with an eclectic mix of soul, pop, rock, and pop rock. Throughout four days and nights MUWI offers 74 hours of music with over 150 artists on various stages at the festival’s main venue - one of Rioja’s iconic wineries, the 129-year-old Bodegas Franco-Españolas, located a short walk across the bridge over the Ebro river from downtown Logroño.

Most of the events take place at the winery but MUWI also takes music, wine and tourism to the heart of the old town in Logroño.  The festival’s opening concert is free and takes place next to the city wall, literally one minute from Logroño’s historic calle Laurel and calle San Juan areas with more than 100 bars and restaurants.

An important challenge for Pancorbo, Bezares and Moreno has been weaving attractive wine events into the structure of MUWI for their primarily 25 to 45 year-old audience, a group more interested in beer and fizzy drinks than wine. 

MUWI has tailored the festival’s wine experiences to people with a wide range of wine knowledge. Absolute beginners compare aromas in wine with fruit aromas while those with more knowledge are led through tutored tastings. For experts, Bodegas Franco-Españolas offers tastings of the top of its range.  Everyone can take a tour of the winery’s old cellars to learn about the history and traditions of Rioja.

For festivalgoers with children, MUWI says, “Bring them along!” saving parents the hassle of hiring a baby sitter or leaving them with grandma and grandpa.  Youngsters learn about the importance of wine for our regional economy, how wine is made from the vineyard to the bottle.  Because they aren’t allowed to drink wine, they sample white and red grape juice.

Pancorbo says that most of the “MUWIers” attend all the concerts throughout the weekend so besides wine events, the organization gives them lots more to do.  MUWI Market offers young entrepreneurs a showcase for their products. Hungry?  A short walk to downtown Logroño or a stop at food trucks and stands with Riojan produce does the trick.

Visitors stay at local hotels or at a campground near the festival site.

Jose Pancorbo is proud that MUWI is a unique music festival in many ways, but as a Riojan he’s especially happy that at MUWI, wine gets the treatment it deserves and is served in wine glasses, not plastic cups!

Save the dates!  MUWI 2020 will take place August 27-28-29 and 30!

Tom Perry

Inside Rioja