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The Dinastia Vivanco Foundation: Dedicated to Preserving the Culture and History of Wine

When I sat down to write this article, it occurred to me that I had no idea what a foundation is, or an endowment for that matter. I had heard of foundations like the Ford Foundation and endowments like the National Endowment for the Arts, but never understood how one is either similar or different from the other. From my limited understanding of the subject, it appears that a foundation makes funds available to establish an organization through endowments with an eye towards future maintenance; whereas an endowment is basically the source of funding.

Once I had that the definition of a foundation straightened out, I then had to sort what exactly the Dinastia Vivanco Foundation was and how I would clearly describe it to you. So humor me while I give it my best shot. The Foundation was established in 2004 by the Vivanco family to share wine’s rich legacy over the centuries. How do they do this? They do this through the disbursement of family funds and resources to investigate both vine growing and winemaking practices, as well as both preserving and displaying various artifacts dedicated to wine. Now technically, because the foundation is funded by the entire Vivanco family, all members of the family have equal power in making meaningful decisions as to how this money is used, but there is one member who has taken the Foundation to heart, taking an active role as Director of the Vivanco Foundation. Santiago Vivanco, one of the two Vivanco brothers, has been the driving force behind the Foundation from the moment of its inception. While Santiago’s brother, Rafael, has spearheaded the management of the winery and winemaking, Santiago has been the driving force behind the Foundation in hopes to (as taken from their site):

  • Investigate the procedures of viticulture, enology and the consumption of wine.
  • Study and spread the history of winemaking at national and international level in all its aspects.
  • Favour and boost relations between individuals and companies with common interests in the investigation and dissemination of the culture of wine.
  • Channel, bring together and spread information concerning research into winemaking.
Bacchus

Through an elected advisory board, which include famous personalities such as Ferran Adriá and Victor García de la Concha, the Foundation’s hope to deepen our understanding of wine and winemaking through research and projects in the following areas: health, culture, art, gastronomy, enology, viticulture, history and communication. One of their most recent acquisitions in the field of literature and wine includes a book by A. Gazius in Latin. Printed in 1491 in Venice, the book continually refers to wine as beneficial to the body if consumed in moderation. Can’t argue with history, now can we?!

Now don’t forget, we also have Dinastia Vivanco Museum, considered the most renowned wine museum in the world. So how does this fit into the Foundation’s umbrella? Simple. Although the museum receives funding from the Foundation, it is a private museum with its very own commercial director. Hence, although part of the Foundation, it is run as a separate entity. Additionally, the Foundation has developed its own publishing service to disseminate information on its research, as well as the works of other authors and institutions focused on wine history and culture. Currently the Foundation has published four different, and widely diverse, texts:

  • Vino de los Faraones (Wine of the Pharaohs)
  • Museo de la Cultura del Vino Dinastía Vivanco : arquitectura (Dinastia Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine: Architecture)
  • El Caliz de Letras: Historia del vino en la Literatura (Wine in Literature)
  • El Cine del Vino (The Cinema of Wine)

Unfortunately, these books aren’t readily available through Amazon, which to be honest, is major disappointment to us considering Dinastia Vivanco’s forward thinking mission statement. You can, however, go directly through their Foundation’s website and share your interest in their books by email; but in order to do so, you must first head to their main homepage, change the language option and then navigate to the Foundation’s page. From this, we can only deduce that their focus on the history of wine has left them blind as to the online future of wine. Hence, we can only hope that their material will soon be accessible to everyone in a more user-friendly way.

Jardim de Baca

The last two aspects of the Foundation I would like to highlight are both their archaeological research and their enological and vine-growing projects. The archaeological research is primarily aimed to the research and excavation of sites in the Mediterranean Basin that could potentially contribute meaningful data about the history and culture of wine. One example of their discoveries includes a winery dating somewhere between the 12th to 14th Century near their Graciano vineyards in Rioja Baja. Although the roof of the original building wasn’t able to be salvaged, the parts of the farm building that belonged to a Cistercian monastery still remain, including the cellar, which has been miraculously preserved.

As for the their enological and vine-growing projects, their 6,000m2 Baccus garden is for me, the most notable. I have only seen it just as it was preparing to tear, but if you can imagine 220 varieties in full bloom, the vision must be spectacular! The garden includes: 21 classes of rootstocks, 3 classes of vitaceas, 15 varietias of Vitis Genus, 3 varieties of direct hybrid producers, 14 singular varieties, 14 16th Century varieties, 7 DOC Rioja varieties, 9 minor Rioja varieties, 49 Spanish DO varities and 87 different varieties from around the globe.

Now mind you, this is still in its infancy with only a handful of years under its belt, but I trust in time, that this already mammoth project will have gained internationally notoriety for its work.

Cheers,

Gabriella

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  • Janelle

    Hola Gabriella and all, I was just in Rioja this weekend over the "Semana Santa" holiday and went to the Museo de la cultura del Vino at Dinastia vivanco and I must say that it is truly worth it. However, I must note that the exhibit descriptions are entirely in Spanish, except most of the names of objects are translated into English, if you want to know what the thing does you have to read it in Spanish. Fortunately I speak Spanish. The museum is facinating, we went thinking we could see it in about an hour. NOT so. We were there at least 3.5 hours going through the different exhibits seeing how wine was made throughout history, how barrels were made by hand and corks, and bottles. Watching cinema which relates to wine, seeing roman mosaics and other artwork from ages past reflecting wine, grapes, and vines. They have several antique machines and different wine presses on exhibit, the one that floored me was the stone wine press which was taken from 20 meters underground in Zamora, Spain and has the trunk of a tree about 10 meters long. We humans are really very ingenious when we want to be! And of course the whole area, and the town of Briones where the Museum is located, is so beautiful, with vinyards everywhere and romanesque churches dotting the countryside and their spires standing over the villages. A great experience, and a fun way to learn about the culture, process and history of winemaking. Saludos , Janelle Ps. it was cold drizzling which was turning to snow when I was there so I left the visiting of the gardens for another day.

  • http://www.tapastalk.com Janelle

    Hola Gabriella and all,
    I was just in Rioja this weekend over the “Semana Santa” holiday and went to the Museo de la cultura del Vino at Dinastia vivanco and I must say that it is truly worth it. However, I must note that the exhibit descriptions are entirely in Spanish, except most of the names of objects are translated into English, if you want to know what the thing does you have to read it in Spanish. Fortunately I speak Spanish. The museum is facinating, we went thinking we could see it in about an hour. NOT so. We were there at least 3.5 hours going through the different exhibits seeing how wine was made throughout history, how barrels were made by hand and corks, and bottles. Watching cinema which relates to wine, seeing roman mosaics and other artwork from ages past reflecting wine, grapes, and vines. They have several antique machines and different wine presses on exhibit, the one that floored me was the stone wine press which was taken from 20 meters underground in Zamora, Spain and has the trunk of a tree about 10 meters long. We humans are really very ingenious when we want to be! And of course the whole area, and the town of Briones where the Museum is located, is so beautiful, with vinyards everywhere and romanesque churches dotting the countryside and their spires standing over the villages. A great experience, and a fun way to learn about the culture, process and history of winemaking.
    Saludos ,
    Janelle
    Ps. it was cold drizzling which was turning to snow when I was there so I left the visiting of the gardens for another day.

  • Gabriella Opaz

    Janelle, Thanks so much for sharing your adventures with us!!! Question however, did you use the audio guide? I ask because there is an English option that describes each piece for you. Additionally, did you see the time-lapse video of the vineyard over the course of the year? This was one of my favorite exhibits, because on three screens butted up to one another, you fully experience the life of a vineyard from bud break to its final pruning. It's absolutely incredible!

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella Opaz

    Janelle,

    Thanks so much for sharing your adventures with us!!! Question however, did you use the audio guide? I ask because there is an English option that describes each piece for you. Additionally, did you see the time-lapse video of the vineyard over the course of the year? This was one of my favorite exhibits, because on three screens butted up to one another, you fully experience the life of a vineyard from bud break to its final pruning. It’s absolutely incredible!

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