Mar 14, 2023

Rioja Wineries Feature Impressive Works of Art

A tour of some of Rioja’s Best Of Wine Tourism winners for Art and Culture.

Bodegas Ontañón Cult of Wine

Bodegas Ontañón’s motto is Passion for vineyards, passion for wine and passion for art.  To visit the winery and museum just outside Logroño, La Rioja is to immerse oneself in the Pérez Cuevas family’s collection of paintings, stained glass windows and sculptures created by artist Miguel Ángel Sainz depicting the role of wine in Greek mythology.

Visitors are greeted by a sculpture of Ganymede, the cupbearer of the Gods on the façade of the winery. Throughout the Cult of Wine tour you can find sculptures of Bacchus, Dionysius and other mythological figures related to wine culture.

Ontañón was one of the first Best Of Wine Tourism award winners for Art and Culture in 2003.

Bodegas Ontañón Ganymede sculpture

Bodegas Ontañón Ganymede sculpture.

Bodegas Murúa

Bodegas Murúa in Elciego, Rioja Alavesa is much more than a winery, although the winery building, an old stone manor house surrounded by vineyards in gently rolling countryside, creates a picture-perfect image of a classical winery.

This image, along with a spectacular collection of artwork and wine-related literature, earned Bodegas Murúa a 2020 Best Of’ Wine Tourism award.

Inside the manor house, visitors can admire the collection of works of art property of the Masaveu family, including paintings, sculptures and etchings by well-known Spanish artists including Francisco de Goya, Tomás Hiepes, Juan de Arellano, Fernando Sotomayor, Valentín Zubiaurre, Francisco Bores, Daniel Quintero and Miquel Barceló. The themes of these works are the harvest, vineyards, and wine, depicted in scenes reflecting the popular customs of the time. Murúa’s collection also features antique winemaking equipment and handmade objects related to wine. 

A second impressive feature of Murúa’s art and culture offering is a 2,500-volume library of wine books, magazines and manuscripts dating from the 16th century to the present day, housed in antique bookshelves. It’s easy to imagine the owner of the winery perusing these old volumes at his desk or in an armchair.

Bodegas Murúa art collections.

Bodegas Murúa art collections.

Solar de Samaniego and the “Half Million” Spaces

The most remarkable design change in Solar de Samaniego winery was painting huge lifelike figures on the seven 13-meter-high storage tanks, each of which with a capacity of 500,000 liters. The design was the brainchild of Australian mural designer Guido Van Helten, who created a common thread for the seven figures:  the people and crafts of the grape and wine industry as well as literature in the Rioja Alavesa.

The design on the first tank represents a worker in a nearby label design and printing company.  The second tank depicts the winery foreman.  The third shows a woman leading a tour around the winery.

Tanks four and five show people writing about the history of the winery and making tasting notes.  Tank six depicts a sommelier reading a book while tank seven is the winery’s longstanding winemaker Alberto Serrano.

Half Million Spaces has added an additional element for the enjoyment of those who spend the night in the area:  a nighttime visit to the winery with a sound and light show.

Solar de Samaniego received a 2022 Best Of Wine Tourism award. 

Bodegas Solar de Samaniego

Bodegas Solar de Samaniego by Guido Van Helten.

Finca Valpiedra

The winery’s location in the middle of a vineyard is the motive of an impressive contemporary art collection from Spaniards Julián Grau Santos, Jesús María Lazcano, Guillermo Muñoz Vera, Menéndez Morán, and Carlos López Garrido among others.

There are also sculptures from José Antonio Olarte, who by the way designed the Best Of Wine Tourism trophies. Visitors can enjoy them as they visit the different rooms of the winery. In addition to these permanent exhibitions, Finca Valpiedra periodically organizes temporary shows.

The winery received a 2009 Best Of Wine Tourism award.

Finca Valpiedra

Finca Valpiedra

Vinícola Real — 200 Monges

The relationship between Riojan artist Luis Burgos, currently one of Spain’s most important figurative artists and Bodegas Vinícola Real – 200 Monges is intense. Visitors to the winery are greeted by Burgos’ interpretation of the Three Graces, goddesses who represent an ideal of grace and beauty.

The winery’s art gallery features a revolving exhibition of Burgos’ latest creations.  Currently on display are twelve oil paintings of world-famous clowns, a collaboration between Burgos and photographer Alfredo Tobía. The project  dates from 2016 during the International Clown Festival ‘Memorial Charlie Rivel’ where Tobía took photos of more than sixty clowns.  Burgos chose a dozen of these, which he reproduced as 1.95 by 1.1 meter oil paintings, turning Vinícola Real’s gallery into a festival of clowns.

Vinícola Real — 200 Monges was a 2022 Global Best Of Wine Tourism winner.

Bodegas Vinícola Real – 200 Monges.

Bodegas Vinícola Real – 200 Monges.

Streets of Colour — Campo Viejo

Bodegas Campo Viejo received a 2015 Best Of Wine Tourism award for its itinerant Streets of Colour project, the winery’s contribution to the burgeoning category of urban street art.

The winery chose artists Okuda San Miguel from Cantabria and French Alby Guillaume aka Remed to decorate the sides of buildings, storefronts in several major markets.

So far, ‘Streets of Colour’ has travelled to Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastian and beyond Spain to London, Oslo, Brussels, Toronto, Miami and Dublin.

According to the Irish Independent on the occasion of the opening of the Dublin Urban Art project, 

It’s a very natural fit for Campo Viejo to work with Okuda and Remed, artists whose styles are inured with a very Spanish flavour. Bold colours complement bold flavours, individual expressiveness complements the wines’ individual expression of the terroirs and the fact the blends are different every year.

One of Okuda y Remed’s creations is in the Campo Viejo vineyard surrounding the winery outside Logroño – a stunning 40-foot tall column where bold colours express the  character of Campo Viejo wines.

Campo Viejo's Streets of Colour

Campo Viejo’s Streets of Colour.

Text by Tom Perry, Inside Rioja

Learn more about Bilbao-Rioja Great Wine Capitals