1910 Brussels stand
The history of our wines has always been linked to the history of our family. Over the years we have stored an endless number of objects related to the winemaking world, as well as personal objects and documents of great historical value, for we are fully aware that one of our most precious treasures is the history of the last 131 years. In 2002 we had many things to celebrate, including the 125th anniversary of the bodega, thus fulfilling the dream of our founder, in achieving the “Supreme Rioja”.
López de Heredia in the Brussels World Expo in 1910
In 1910, Europe and America were undergoing a euphoric moment of peace and hope, with the impulse of communications and business which gave Madrid a modern character and a European outlook. This circumstance was used by Don Rafael to set up his offices on the corner of Calle Alcalá and Calle Sevilla, in an area that had taken on a certain air reminiscent of the "City" in London, with the monumental buildings of the large banks and the offices of "La Equitativa", where López de Heredia was established.
1910 also saw the opening of the Hotel Ritz in Madrid, and Don Rafael succeeded in making people associate Viña Tondonia with an expression of good living during this "belle époque". Tondonia began to be served at the tables of “L'Hardy”, “Tournie”, the “Hotel Ritz” and later in the “Palace”, in the same way that it would later become popular in the best restaurants around the world. Two events gave the founder of the Haro bodega the perfect opportunities to lend his products the cosmopolitanism he so desired: firstly, the Brussels World Expo in 1910, together with its rival, the Buenos Aires World Expo, which was held around the same date to celebrate the centenary of the Argentine Republic.
Excited by the fact that the two events were situated in the centre of Europe and in the capital city of the most prosperous nation in Latin America respectively, he planned the presentation of his wines in the setting of an artistic, original and elegant structure, influenced by modernist trends. Don Rafael's friendships throughout Europe, together with the collaboration of his eldest son, Don Rafael López de Heredia Aransáez (who, by the age of twenty, had finished studying mechanical engineering in Germany, and had already embarked on further studies in England and France) were important influences in putting his father's ideas into practice.
Among the aforementioned friendships, Don Nicolás de Escoriaza, an agricultural engineer and Royal Commissioner for the Spanish representation in the Brussels World Expo, gave Don Rafael sound advice and helped iron out any problems they had in installing the López de Heredia structure inside the Spanish pavilion.
Letters detailing the first contacts with a specialist French company, probably recommended by Don Escoriaza, have been kept. Don Rafael was unable to reach an agreement with the firm in question due to the fact that the latter felt that they would not have enough time to complete the project before the opening ceremony.
The construction of the stand
The Haro craftsmen must have been very excited at being entrusted with this project, which had been personally conceived by Don López de Heredia (conscious of the artistic trends of the period) in collaboration with the architect J. Cabrera y Latorre. The structure consisted of an enclosure that opened onto a backdrop of shelves and mirrors of Venetian character, finished with balusters and a colophon crowned with flags.
Among the carpenters in the team, the joiner Juan Sagredo, established in Calle Marqués de Francos, 63, in Haro, is worthy of special mention. The construction details, plans and instructions for assembling and dismounting the structure are still housed in the Lopez de Heredia archives. Their admirable precision and remarkable attention to detail greatly facilitated the recent restoration and remounting of the structure. Extraordinary work was also carried out by the cabinet maker José Besga, who created the “boiserie” ensemble out of walnut.
Merit for all the decorative and ornamental work is attributed to the sculptor and woodworker Fidel Vargas y San Román. Don Rafael was so satisfied with his work that he pointed it out to the commissioner of the expo and Fidel Vargas received the corresponding honorary compensation.
All these efforts were greatly rewarded when the Commissioner-General, Don Nicolás de Escoriaza sent the following telegram to the Haro bodega: “LÓPEZ DE HEREDIA: GRAND PRIX - EXPOSITION UNIVERSELLE - BRUXELLES 1910”.
The exquisite care with which the stand was disassembled has made it possible for it to reappear in its full aesthetic glory ninety-two years later, bringing together the value of wines of López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, the “Rioja Supremo”.
Of the original installation of the stand in the Brussels World Expo in 1910, only the image above remains. The inexorable passing of time has deteriorated the glass plate that held the image, but despite this, it has served as main testimony and reference for the required restoration process.
The restoration process of the stand
For some time, and apart from continuing to build the original projects of our founder, we have been restoring and maintaining old objects of great historical and emotional value not only for ourselves but also for our friends and clients, as well as for our region.
The restoration of this shop was one of the dreams of all the members of our family. We have carried it out with professionalism and as faithfully as possible. For this, we have based the project on old photographs, plans and documentation. In line with the essence of restoration work, we have used natural products that do not damage the patina or natural aging of the wood, as well as reversible methods that make it possible to assemble and disassemble the installation in the future as many times as we wish. The idea of restoring this modernist stand was an old dream that was made possible as its fragments were scattered around the winery. On occasions, the wood was found in a damaged state, softened by the damp, hollowed out by woodworm or discoloured by dust.
Blanca Ameztoy Fernández-Montes dedicated more than one year to the recuperation of these beautiful pieces, putting the wood through processes of cleaning, disinfection, consolidation and waxing, always with natural products and fully respecting the original conception of the structure. Although most of the structural and decorative elements have been retrieved, some were lost, as is the case with a small part of the floor, one of the display cases and part of the cornice. Even so, to remain faithful to the project and conserve the symmetry that was characteristic of the shop. These parts have been reconstructed with the same measurements and materials shown in the conserved documents. A new material covering has also been made for the installation, since the original was unusable. However, in this case also, the appearance and raw material with which the original was made has been respected. All these efforts have made it possible for the modernist shop to be put on show today as it was in 1910.