When we think of a getaway or a wine tourism trip, images of wineries, vineyards, tastings come to mind… But on the Rioja Alta Wine Route there is also room for art. That is why, on this International Museum Day, we would like to take a look at the exhibition spaces you will find in our different towns and villages.
Let’s start with the best known internationally: the Museum of Wine Culture of the Vivanco Foundation, in Briones. Opened in 2004, this museum is considered one of the best in the world. In this complex, made up of the museum itself and the winery, we find the history and culture of wine, a product associated with mythology and religion, with a strong social presence and whose production requires, from the vineyard to the winery, work that captures the essence of traditional tasks.
The Vivanco Museum occupies an area of four thousand square metres, with five permanent exhibition rooms that house the collections that the Vivanco family has acquired over the years: from vessels dating back centuries, presses, great works of art (Picasso, Sorolla, Juan Gris, Chillida, Barceló, Genovés, etc.) or audiovisuals where you can discover everything about the history and future of wine. A visit not to be missed.
And without leaving the municipality of Briones, there is another museum, this time with an ethnographic theme: the Enchanted House. It is located in the Palace of the Marquis of San Nicolás, a building characteristic of the civil Baroque architecture of La Rioja in the 18th century. Inside we can find collections gathered in the abandoned villages of the Sierra de Cameros that give a good account of how the people of our villages lived until the middle of the 20th century. Objects and household goods have become suggestive witnesses of the daily life of our ancestors.
In this tour of the museums and exhibition spaces on the Rioja Alta Wine Route, we stop at another recently created museum, the Pottery Museum of Bodegas FyA in Navarrete. It is the only pottery centre in the Rioja region, and is one of the most important in northern Spain. Its collection consists of 850 pieces related to the world of wine, including “mosteador” pitchers, pitchers or “arrope” pots, a wide variety of sizes (cántara, half cántara, cuartilla, cuartilla y media, azumbre, azumbre y media, media azumbre, cuartillo and cantarillas), jugs of various sizes, including those known as “jarra porrón” and “jarra de trampa”, basins for collecting wine, water jugs, etcetera.
It also features a pioneering film projection in Spain, projected on a 180-degree wraparound screen, with a length of 20 metres and a height of 3 metres. With a unique audiovisual mise-en-scene, the art of pottery and wine throughout history is shown for 15 minutes, showing visitors the evolution of humanity, from the point of view of wine and its relationship with pottery, as well as highlighting the importance of Navarrete as a settlement for the preservation of this art.
Continuing our tour, we now stop at the Torreón Museum in Haro, a building that occupies the last remains of the medieval walls that have defended the city since the 13th century. Since its inauguration in 2007, the Museo del Torreón has become a space to house and accommodate the proposals of the younger generations of creators and artistic activities from La Rioja and outside the community. A place to exhibit and showcase the great diversity of styles, trends and genres that art is acquiring today as the multiple and borderless image of our time.
And in the capital of La Rioja, Logroño, we find the Museum of La Rioja, a palace built in the mid-18th century in which General Baldomero Espartero and his wife Jacinta Martínez de Sicilia, whose family owned it, lived. Opened to the public as such in 1971, the Museum of La Rioja houses an important collection of pieces whose origin dates back to prehistoric times in La Rioja and continues to the present day.
But in addition to these physical spaces, on the Rioja Alta Wine Route we also have an important collection of open-air works of art, represented by sculptures and murals scattered throughout our towns and villages. Logroño, Haro, Sajazarra and San Vicente de la Sonsierra are home to a good number of them, but we invite you to get to know the rest and to accompany your wine tourism with the artistic heritage that these Rioja towns offer us.