The antropologist Luis Vicente Elías complies milestone in wine transport to contextualize the work of wineskin artisan Félix Barbero

18 of September of 2016

Haro, 18th of September 2016.- The winery GÓMEZ CRUZADO takes us on a journey through the history of wine trade, the tools, the materials and the means of transport that have helped to preserve and ship wines. Moreover, they have influenced the creation of renowned wine making areas, such as the BARRIO DE LA ESTACIÓN in Haro, born at the end of the 19th century thanks to the railway line. Wine anthropologist Luis Vicente Elías has compiled the numerous milestones in wine transport to provide a context for the work of the Riojan wineskin artisan Félix Barbero, who has set up his workshop in the BARRIO DE LA ESTACIÓN on the occasion of the event to highlight the historic bonds of the Barrio with the wine-making culture. His skill in the traditional method of wineskin making could be enjoyed together with other activities displayed at the second edition of the HARO WINE EXPERIENCE.

Different materials such as wood, clay, leather, metal and glass have been used to transport, preserve and consume wine on land and sea since ancient times. Luis Vicente Elías points out “over time every region has used each of those materials with less or greater intensity, although all of them have been worthy of mention in their relationship with wine. In some cases these materials hid the defects of the wine, although in others they have improved the wines' quality, as is the case of wood”.

The work of the wineskin artisan Félix Barbero is presented along with a text written by Elías that reviews the various stages of the wine trade. Barbero has moved his workshop for the day from its location in Calle Sagasta in Logroño to the courtyard of GÓMEZ CRUZADO in Haro. He will share the skill of a trade which he inherited from his father, Félix, in 1955, who in turn, inherited it from his father Teófilo, who made wineskins for drinking and wine transportation in the mid-nineteenth century. Félix has evolved this craft by using different materials and models.

Leather and skin are wine-related since ancient times

The anthropologist recalls that “since classic Greece, biblical quotes or pharaonic references all describe the use of leather receptacles in these periods”. The craftsman removes the entire skin from the animal, be it a cow, goat or even a cat, leaving the orifices of the neck and the legs. Once the skin is hardened, it is turned over and in some cases filled with pitch, a substance extracted from pine resin that makes it waterproof. Barbero still makes his wine skins with goatskin and pitch in the interior. However, he has substituted pitch for latex, and more recently the use of beef skin for the exterior.

The railway and wine go hand in hand

Luis Vicente Elías has also described the link between the railway- that in the 19th century brought a revolution in the transportation of people and goods- and wine. “Trains therefore modified the wine-making activity and, moreover, enabled wine trading from remote areas to borders and maritime ports”.  The history of the BARRIO DE LA ESTACIÓN in Haro is deeply rooted in the advent of the railway. As soon as the railway came into operation in the area known as Cantarranas in Haro, “businessmen set themselves up near the tracks, which gave rise to a completely different model compared to the traditional spaces dedicated to wine making in Rioja”.

Elías explains how “facilities that took influence from French architecture were built, with thick-walled buildings being constructed in order to protect the wine from adverse weather conditions. However, the traditional Riojan method of storing wine in underground cellars was also conserved.” As he notes, “in that context the businessmen commenced work on seeking new markets and, above all, producing bottled wines aged in barrels, as per French tradition.” He concludes “The name Rioja as a wine-producing region was forged and consolidated in this district created by the railways.”

El Barrio de La Estación, a worldwide wine tourism destination

The tasting at the BARRIO DE LA ESTACIÓN is a joint-effort of the seven wineries located at the district -López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, La Rioja Alta S.A., Cvne, Muga, Roda, Bilbaínas and Gómez Cruzado-, to promote this wine district as a worldwide wine destination. The goal is to make the event one of the world’s best wine tasting experiences, as well as enjoying the culture and history that the Barrio features.

2016 has been the second edition in a row and, and like last year, it was split into a day exclusively for industry professionals – 16th September- and a second day for wine lovers. The highlight of the first day was a tasting session conducted by Master of Wine Pedro Ballesteros, who “unveiled” the blends of seven wines offered by the wineries for journalists, sommeliers and other main actors of the wine industry.

Saturday 17th was the date for wine lovers, a food and wine celebration journey with an international scope where visitors enjoyed the Barrio through fourteen premium wines offered by the wineries and seven tapas made by the local restaurants in Haro, along with music and other activities.

Among the wines picked for the occasion, GÓMEZ CRUZADO offered GÓMEZ CRUZADO BLANCO 2015 and HONORABLE 2012, which represent the range of Rioja fine wines made by this boutique winery. Wines made by an old-century winery that has been revitalized and reinvigorated by David González and Juan Antonio Leza, two young grape growers and winemakers determined to make wines that highlight the terroir, which in the end is the purest expression of the identity of the land.


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