Interview with Pilar de Haya, Lavinia: "I really like wine because it unites. More than WIFI".
Wine culture has many faces, but if there is one that is especially visible to consumers, it is the wine bar. The place that connects the two worlds: people who want to enjoy a wine, and bottles of wine that want to be tasted. And bridging the gap are the salespeople in these shops, who have a vital influence on the purchasing decision.
Today we take a closer look at Lavinia, one of the wine bars with capital letters. 20 years of history, more than 4,500 wine references, 20 sommeliers at your service and a single objective: to put soul into all these numbers.
Today we meet our new Human of WinePilar de Haya, responsible for events and companies at Lavinia.
/ What is your day to day life like? /
It is very varied. When Juan Manuel, my director, offered me to work here, he told me that every day would be different. And that's true. I've been in charge of the events and companies department at Lavinia for two years now. I take care of parties to promote Wine Culture, of companies that ask us for Christmas gifts, networking actions with other clients, visits to wineries... And I also sell bottles (laughs).
What do you think Lavinia's hallmark is?
From the outset, the shop is impressive. We are in the most elegant district of Madrid and it is a huge shop, designed in a hedonistic way to enjoy wine as something exciting. Here we also have our restaurant with chef Toni García, where you can eat with a wine you have bought in our shop, at shop price and without corkage charge. The shop assistants are excellent professionals, as we are in constant training. Anyone who enters this shop either prays to the virgin or prays to a sommelier! They spend as much time and care as it takes to make sure you leave happy with the €10 bottle or the €1000 bottle.
/ The wine references in your shop seem infinite /
Yes, and in addition, we buy all the wines we have directly from their wineries, in order to ensure that they are in perfect condition. That gives us a lot of work, because we have to talk to each winery, and we have 4500 references from Spain and all over the world. But as we are all wine lovers here, we don't mind spending many hours working on this.
/ Does your passion for wine start in Lavinia? /
I was a musician and I had a vocational crisis. I got a job at the Gourmets Fair in Madrid and I had an epiphany in which I saw that I wanted to belong to the world of wine. Then I went on to work in a magazine and then I came to Lavinia. I have been in this sector for 20 years now.
Coincidentally, I have since returned to the world of music with my rock band The Winedrinkers, in which we unite two passions: music and wine.
/ What kind of customers come to the shop / What kind of customers come to the shop?
Thank God, it comes from everything. I like everyone to approach wine the way they feel about it. We have customers who are geeky connoisseurs, who are looking for a bottle of Ganevat, of which we have 12, and the moment they find out about it they are already here. We have customers who know the classic Rioja or Ribera del Duero labels and are looking for wines for their celebrations or as gifts. We have very young people who come especially to the showrooms to soak up the world of wine in a pleasant and easy way. Also professionals and sommeliers from restaurants. It is a shop where everyone can find their place.
/ How do you know you'll get it right when you recommend a wine? /
I ask them a lot of questions. I use their answers, plus the memory I have of the wines I have tasted, plus intuition. And if I have any doubts or need inspiration, I go to a colleague, although it's funny because we always say different things. And if we don't get it right, I tell them to come. Many people have sommeliers they like, our sommeliers have their fans.
/ What does the Wine Culture mean to you? /
For me, Wine Culture starts in the regions: the products that are in the area, the grapes, the climate, the soil... Each one has a special character. This is transmitted in a bottle that arrives in this shop. For me, there is nothing nicer than going to a region and having a winemaker recommend other wineries to go to. There is a culture and a union that helps the economic and cultural wealth of the area. For me, the countryside is the lungs of society, we cannot be detached from the land, in every sense of the word. I like wine very much because it unites. More than WIFI.
I am grateful to Vivanco for keeping all the history of wine and for keeping it for the rest of the generations. Because it is very important to know where we came from in the world of wine, where we are now and how to do better in the future. The work they do is great, I am very grateful to them.
/ Which wine Vivanco would you recommend? /
I really like the wines from Colección Vivanco and, in particular, Garnacha. The connoisseurs can look for something more special, such as the Maturana Tinta. For me, I would choose the wine Collection Vivanco Parcelas de Garnacha. I think it is fantastic. And for someone who doesn't understand so much, I would recommend the Vivanco Reserva which is very well priced and great. Vivanco has wines for all profiles.
/ Do you have any nice memories where wine was present? /
The only alcohol my father drank was a small glass of wine that was served in a glass of zurito in Getxo, where I'm from. One day, when I was a child, my father gave me money for an ice cream for being good, but I wanted to surprise him and I bought him a wine. I went into the card room doing my best to convince the waiter, as the children were not allowed to enter, I poured the wine for my father and I was the sensation of the club. I am very fond of that moment. I like La Rioja a lot because it reminds me of clay, fronton and pelota.