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Basques to build major Drinks & Wine Campus

Published:  04 December, 2023

Their culinary prowess is widely known, but now the Basques are looking to boost their wine credentials with the creation of a €15 million wine and drinks university campus.

Basques make fine aged red and white wines, together with young carbonic maceration wine, from bush vines in the Basque Country’s Rioja Alavesa wine region, and in Navarra and on the other side of the Pyrenees, in Iroulegy.

While their cider houses are known for their unique, seasonal celebrations, Basque wine producers in Spain are diversifying and experimenting with the production and ageing methods of Txakoli, a crisp, white wine.

Now, to strengthen their wine and drinks industry, the Basque Culinary Centre (BCC) is spearheading the creation of a wine focused campus, officially named EDA (Edariak eta Ardoa) Drinks & Wine Campus.

The BCC, backed by the autonomous Basque government, wants to meet commercial and environmental challenges facing producers.

It has appointed Elisa Ucar, former winemaker at the esteemed Domaines Lupier in Navarre, as director.

Through the EDA, the BCC aims to raise the international profile of wine and drinks production in terms of education, sustainability, innovation and research, and commercial ventures, putting the Basque Country on a par with similar institutions in the Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and Adelaide.

This week, BCC director Joxe Mari Aizepa announced that one of the EDA’s headquarters would be located next to the Casa del Vino in Laguardia, a picturesque medieval hilltop village in Rioja Alavesa, built by the Kingdom of Navarre in the 10th Century, and home to more than 300 underground wine cellars beneath houses.

A second EDA campus will be located in the Basque capital city of Vitoria, which the BCC hopes to transform into the Basque capital of wine. Vitoria is home to the Basque parliament and the Basque government, which, together with a local institution, the Diputación de Alava, has agreed to fund the EDA to the tune of €15m.

Preliminary EDA courses could start as early as next year, ahead of its full opening by 2026. An architecture tender to design the EDA buildings is expected to be opened by the end of the year; it is understood that the BCC wants designs to match the existing, eye-opening originality of contemporary architecture in the Basque Country, such as that of the Marques de Riscal winery in Rioja Alavesa, the Guggenheim art museum in Bilbao, and the BCC and Kursaal buildings in Donostia-San Sebastian.