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Representatives from one of Spain’s most successful wineries to give talk in Ludlow

Thursday, Feb. 28 - LUDLOW - If you like to find out more about Rioja and Dinastia Vivanco, join us at the Downtown Grocery in Ludlow this Thursday evening where Vivanco's Marcela Vallejo will be present to talk about the winery.

Back in the year 1915 Pedro Vivanco Gonzalez made wine for family use from his vineyards in the village of Alberite, La Rioja, Spain and began selling wine door to door as a 'cosechero,' a farmer selling his crop locally from a wagon. In 1940 he bou ght a small wine cellar business in the same village. A curious caption had been carved over the door of that cellar reading: "he who walks by and is thirsty, if the door is open, should enter and drink."

Today, Dinastia Vivanco is of the one of the most ambitious wine projects in Spain - or perhaps anywhere - consisting of a museum, educational center, and modern winery, built according to the vision of passionate collector and wine merchant Pedro Vivanco, one of Spain's first enologists and the third generation of Vivancos in the wine business.

The winery is impressive, surrounded completely by vineyards and features a fully underground, naturally cooled aging cellar that houses 3,500 barrels. For their annual bottling, Vivanco selects only the top 20-30% of the annual harvest and only from their own vineyards of about a 1,000 acres, ensuring complete control over the winemaking process and quality of the wines. The goal is to make world-class, iconic wines.

Last year Wine Spectator included one of their wines in the Top 100.

The family tradition continues with sons Santiago and Rafael Vivanco. Santiago manages the museum and "Fundación Cultura de Vino," while Bordeaux-trained Rafael heads the viticulture and winemaking. Rafael's intention is to follow the history of Rioja, using only indigenous grapes, traditional methods, and subtle influence of oak.

The winery is in Rioja Alta, located on the western edge of the Rioja DOC region at higher elevations than the other areas, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja, and is known more for its most sophisticated 'old world' style of wine based on Tempranillo, which tends to be delicate in flavor and mature well. A distinct characteristic of Rioja wine is the effect of oak aging, which gives wines a certain vanilla and cedar character that has been a trademark of the DOC. Rioja tintos (reds) are classified into four categories: The first, simply labeled "Rioja" is the youngest with less than a year of aging. Rioja Crianza is aged for at least two years, at least six months in oak. Rioja Reserva ages for at least three years with one year in oak; Rioja Gran Reserva wines have been aged at least two years in oak and three years in bottle. Reserva and Gran Reserva wines are only produced in good years.

There is also a white, Rioja Blanco, made from the Viura grape (a.k.a. Macabeo), and often blended with some Malvasía and Garnacha Blanca. Rosés (rosados) generally are made from Grenache grapes.

Rioja has often a similar earthiness to red Burgundies and is a great 'food wine' as it is generally fairly light with mild acidity.