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Permanent Exhibition

Inaugurated in 2004 by H.R.M. King Juan Carlos I, the Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine is the main exponent of the the work of Vivanco Foundation. It is a large, modern, functional space which houses the collections that the family has acquired over many years: As an outreach centre, the Museum is an enterprising and ambitious initiative, which has become an international reference on wine, its history, winemaking techniques, wine research and all the cultural and artistic manifestations that revolve around it.

HALL 1: BEING BORN, GROWING, MATURING

In this room you can discover the cultural significance of wine since it was first made, more than 8,000 years ago.

In this spacious room, divided into small modules, you can discover the origin of wine, the most typical grape-growing soils in each part of the world, the origins and development of Rioja, what phylloxera is, how the vineyards are tilled, etc. An extensive ethnographic and technological collection of the vine and wine where we are sure you will be surprised.

The Origins of Wine

The origins of wine are closely linked to the process of sedentarisation of man. Since its inception, wine has been linked to religious celebrations and the gods of drunkenness, joy, music, etc.

In the Middle Ages wine was closely linked to Christianity as it was equated with the blood of Christ.

Land of lands

Presumably, the first wine came from an accidental fermentation of grapes from wild vines. The importance of this drink led man to grow the plant to ensure berry availability. This happened around 6000 BCE in the Transcaucasian region. From there it expanded throughout the Mediterranean basin and adjoining regions.

After learning about the origins of wine, you can discover the types of soil that offer the necessary conditions to subsequently produce quality wines. The choice of the most appropriate grape variety for each vineyard depends on the soil, climate, terrain, rainfall, etc.

You can see the types of land where grapes are grown around the world.

Rioja wine: an age-old tradition

Although the Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine was made with the aim of sharing the culture of wine with the whole world, given the evident link between the Vivanco family and La Rioja, we reserved a small space of this room to explain the evolution of our land.

From ancient times, wine has always been much more than a business in La Rioja: it is a symbol of cultural identity.

Although wine was brought to Rioja by the Romans, the real turning point came in the second half of the 19th century. French traders began to arrive in La Rioja looking to buy wine in the face of acute shortages in their country after a plague wiped out their vineyards. They left their business skills behind and, more importantly, their winemaking techniques —the most advanced at the time— which endured after the phylloxera passed through the region.

An event of vital importance in the history of Rioja wine was the creation of the Rioja Wine Control Board in 1926. From its inception to present day, it has always strived to guarantee the origin and quality of our wines.

In addition to historical photos of our land, you can discover the native grape varieties used in the wine region: Viura, Malvasía, Garnacha Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo, Maturana Tinta.

Grape growing

The process that culminates in tasting a good wine begins in the field. The work of the grape growers is as important as that of the winemaker.

In our collection, you can see how traditional grape growing systems and implements (pruning tools, ploughs, knives, etc.) have remained practically unchanged for millennia. With just a few instruments all the essential tasks were carried out: pruning in autumn, turning the soil over and fertilising it in winter, removing weeds in the summer, harvesting the grapes, etc.

In the room, you can see utensils employed throughout history —both manual and mechanical.

You can also see one of our main video clips, on 3 screens using a cinema technique. The 8-minute video will show you all the work carried out in the vineyards throughout the year.

The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century brought new inventions: iron tools, tractors, sprayers, grafters... Farms became progressively mechanised, until present day, in which machinery coexists with a concern for using environmentally-friendly farming systems.

The threats to the vine

While vines are tended throughout the year, particular care must be taken against the various diseases and plagues that may attack the vineyard. Among them is phylloxera, an aphid that attacks the roots of the vine and eventually dries it out.

Currently, this is no longer a problem, as a solution was found by grafting European varieties in phylloxera-immune American rootstock. Today practically all vines in the world are grafted, but at one point, this plague devastated most European vineyards and this was one of the reasons why the French came to Rioja.

Pierre Marie Alexis Millardet discovered the cure for this plague. In our museum you can see a commemorative plaque that was given to him for this valuable discovery.

The harvest: the fruit of labour

Towards the end of the summer or early autumn, depending on grape ripeness, is time to pick the fruit.

The harvest, evolved very little until very recent times. Today, there is closer monitoring of grape ripeness to determine the optimum harvest time and the grapes are taken to the crush pad faster to prevent delays that could result in premature fermentations in detriment of wine quality.

In this space you can discover the utensils that were used by vintagers for years. In addition, there is a collection of historical photographs of whole families harvesting their own vineyards.

Winemaking

Winemaking has undergone a similar evolution. There were practically no variations from antiquity until the 19th century, when, it was again industrialisation and research that revolutionised winemaking. New machinery appeared in the wineries: crushers, destemmers, foundry presses and many other machines made it possible to turn larger volumes of grapes into better wine.

Here you can also see machinery that was used in the past as well as panels depicting Egyptian, Roman, Greek and contemporary presses, which show how man gradually modified and improved this equipment.

From must to wine

In this space, you can again enjoy a modern audiovisual presentation to help you understand what is happening inside a fermenter, following the grapes from the time they reach the winery until the fermented grape juice (i.e, the wine) is removed. Some sequences have been filmed inside a fermentation vat.

They therefore show some very interesting shots which a of particular interest because of the difficulty in capturing the various stages of the production process. You can even hear the real sounds of fermentation.

The laboratory

From a scientific point of view, people like Louis Pasteur, were essential in the introduction of sanitary controls in wine. They turned the lab in a faithful ally of the winemaker, helping them anticipate the evolution of wine and tackle the problems as they arise. You will discover microscopes, ebulliometers, densimeters, alcoholmeters... instruments used to determine the alcoholic strength, density, or acidity of the wine, which were integrated into the landscape of the winery.

HALL 2: SAVE THE ESSENCES

In the second hall of the Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine, you can see how the concern over keeping and transporting wine under the best conditions has evolved over the centuries. After a long process, oak barrels and glass bottles stopped with a cork became consolidated as the most suitable vessels.

This room is divided into 3 areas: barrels, bottles and corks.

In it, you can see the work of the coopers, glass-makers and cork craftsmen. The tools used by these masters are on display here, and you can find out how they were used in the accompanying videos. So, coopers, glass-makers and cork craftsmen became loyal allies of the winemaker.

There is also a display on the evolution of the bottle, summarising the transformation of this vessel since Roman times to the beginning of the 20th century, reviewing the various materials used: ceramics, leather, glass, etc.

Barrels

The first video shows the fine craftsmanship required to make a barrel. It is a painstaking process that produces a water-tight, perfectly calibrated container without the need for glue or nails. This space details it step by step, starting with the choice of wood, its bending and transformation and  ending with the desired container.

This illustrative video received the Oenovideo Award at the International Grape & Wine Film Festival held in Paris in September 2005.

Bottles

Following you can see another video which shows how bottle making went from being a manual craft to an industrial process. Formerly, bottles were made by blowing, a task requiring a highly refined technique, an understanding of how glass melts and, above all, ability. After seeing a glass-maker manually making a bottle, you will see today's high-volume, high-speed manufacturing systems.

Cork

And, accompanying with the bottle, there is the cork. Here we compare the traditional method of preparing plugs, which disappeared in the first third of the 20th century, with the ultimate mechanisation in this industry. You can also see the different materials used to make corks today.

HALL 3: THE WINERY, THE DREAM

Not everything is ageing and resting in the cellar. This area explains the different tasks that are carried out in a winery: From the the time the wine is racked from the fermenters and maceration tanks to when it is put on the market.

Century-old tasks

The first part of this space explains the successive stages of rest and activity: racking, fining, filtering, etc. The various materials used for this work are on display: pumps, filters, taps, etc.

Character, colour and aroma

In this room, there is also a space where you can experience the sensations of a wine tasting. A panel of photos shows the differences between young wines and barrel-aged wines (Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva) in reds, whites and rosés.

But it is not only a question of colour, and you also have the opportunity of discovering some of the aromas that can be found in a wine: liquorice, roses, leather, violets, honey, etc. A fun, practical way of learning. In addition, you will also find an interactive display where you can discover the scents associated with different types of wine.

The wine journey

Finally, in this room, you can also see the marketing and transportation of wine has evolved over time. Amphorae, wineskins, barrels, carts and the major means of transport —ships and trains— can be seen in this part of the Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine. The fact is that wine marketing also evolved over time. Scales and measures were used to check vessel capacities. Winemaking techniques were also improved to to ensure wines could endure ocean voyages.

As seen in Hall 2, the bottle was gradually becoming the main container for preserving and also transporting wine. Nonetheless, even wineskins, which were extensively used in the past, still maintain a token presence today.

There are also those aspects that are specifically linked to marketing: the steelyards for the sale of wine by weight, different sets of measures with contrasts, seals placed by the authorities to prevent fraud, or the carboys and demijohns used in bulk sales.

Historical presses

The central area of the room displays the various types of presses used over the centuries that are linked to those shown in the first space of the exhibition.

HALL 4: WINE, ART AND SYMBOL

So far, you have a tour of the history of wine. From now on, you will find collections that show the traces of wine in the creations of man.

The art and archaeology collection is undoubtedly the most distinct feature of the Museum. It is rare to find a collection covering such a broad range of works from different periods and techniques, which, at the time, shares the common denominator of being linked to wine. Together, these works speak of the symbolic value that the vine and wine have had for man, especially in the Mediterranean culture.

Wine has been associated with religious phenomena in Egyptian, Graeco-Latin and Judeo-Christian cultures. Here you can therefore find references to Hathor, representations of Dionysus-Bacchus and Eucharistic chalices of singular beauty.

This space also includes artworks of different types that show the extent to which the vine and wine have served as inspiration for the artists. It has examples ranging from antiquity to contemporary art.

The most common subjects are scenes of grape harvests and people enjoying wine depicted in a demystified vision of classical mythology —like the beautiful Bacchanals carved in ivory

or the wonderful works of Spanish, Flemish, Italian and French artists such as Jan van Scorel, Pablo Picasso, Sorolla, Joan Miró, Juan Gris and the original plates by Walt Disney. It is an art collection showing the surprising and varied ties between world-renowned artists and wine.

HALL 5: OPEN, SERVE AND DRINK

The wine is here and it is now time to enjoy it. But how to open the bottle without a corkscrew?

Here you can see the corkscrew collection of the Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine, consisting of close to 3500 pieces that show the evolution and diversity of this apparently simple instrument.

The collection is divided into categories: pocket, figurative, bar use, modern design, multifunction, religious, lever, erotic, etc.

The first models date from the end of the 18th century, when the use of glass bottles with cork stoppers became widespread. There are many mechanisms invented in order to extract corks from bottles, as well as numerous patents meant to register these creations and prevent copying.

They come mostly from countries where quality bottled wine is consumed: the United Kingdom, France, the United States, the Nordic countries, and so on. They tend to show national peculiarities, including the use of particular materials, such as brass in the UK, silver in France or horn in the U.S. Once the bottle has been opened, the wine has to be served so one can taste it. The collection brings together elements from classical antiquity at the beginning of the 20th century. Metal, ceramic and glass are the materials used to make glasses, pitchers, decanters, porrons, etc. The utilitarian nature of these objects is not at odds with the exceptional artistic level of many of them, in tune with the care and refinement required by the ritual of serving and tasting the wine as a drink for gods and men, divine offering and body food.

Come and Meet us
Carretera Nacional 232, 26330. Briones - La Rioja. Spain

Winery: +34 941 322 013 / winery@vivancowineculture.com

Foundation: +34 941 322 330 / foundation@vivancowineculture.com

Experiences: +34 941 322 323 / experiences@vivancowineculture.com
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