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.
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.
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.