María José López de Heredia: “The Zaha Hadid project was an accident”

img_0352_edit(Continued from the post dated April 26.  )

María José feels that wineries should cultivate their image just as they cultivate their vineyards and their wines, and in this respect, there’s still a lot of work to be done in Rioja.  “Here in Rioja, we’re capable of making the best wines in the world, but it’s useless to believe that we’re the best if the outside world doesn’t know about it.”

On the subject of image, she says that the Zaha Hadid-designed visitors’ reception area and tasting room, nicknamed ‘La Frasca’ (the beaker, because of its shape) was an accident.  There was no design contest nor did the winery specify that the architect had to be a woman.  “After restoring my great grandfather’s stand, I wanted to protect it and Zaha was recommended by a friend  as a good architect.  It was before she won the Pritzker prize. ”

To carry our her plans, María José had to overcome the resistance put up by her father, who still refers to the visitors’ center as “that thing stuck to the front of the winery”.  She finds his attitude surprising since what he added on to the winery was described by Hadid as “extraordinary, using large blocks of stone like the Egyptians or the Romans “.  María José laughs and says that the family spends more time talking about their building projects than their wines, about which they’re completely in agreement.

María José repeats that the Hadid project wasn’t conceived to attract visitors to the winery but rather to add to its heritage.  In spite of this, López de Heredia receives thousands of visits a year, and not necessarily older folks commonly thought of as Viña Tondonia drinkers.  “About 70% of our visitors are young people with a modern mentality who might not have ever heard of our brand but through word of mouth and the internet have been curious to see our history for themselves and how our wines are made following traditional, natural methods, something they value highly.  We don’t make wine for old or young people, but rather for people of all ages.”

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One thought on “María José López de Heredia: “The Zaha Hadid project was an accident”

  1. Pingback: Blame it on Rioja » Blog Archive » Rioja, Old and New

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