Thank you to Fermín, one of my amazing intercambios, and all of his wonderful connections in Logroño, we were able to take a private tour of a palace in the center of town that was recently renovated with the idea of turning it into the ‘Cultural Center of the Rioja’ (CCR) with a very urban feel. As most of you know, if you have ever looked at where the wine you drink is made, Rioja is a very well known region for wine making and a definite part of the culture here. For this, the architect, Jesús Merino Pascual, designed the outside of the building to look like a ‘botellero’, the place in the winery where the already bottled wine is positioned horizontally, one bottle staked on top of the other, to finish the fermentation process. Can you see the resemblance?
As we walked into the building, the changes that have been made were overwhelming. The whole inside has been transformed into a modern urban site, while still respecting the heritage of the building. Our guide pointed out many of the original pieces of the building that the architect kept and restored to integrate the past with the present; the original entrance with the crest of the family that owned the palace, the original ceilings complete with wooden vegas, and even one of the storage nooks at the entrance where they would first store the grapes when they were brought in from the fields.
As we toured the whole building, I could really see the potential that this building has. Everything was very well thought out. There are smaller rooms where art exhibitions could be held, bigger rooms where classes could be held about the history of the wine here in the Rioja, and even a large event space in the middle that would be great for a big gathering to feature a new artist or recently released wine. But my favorite part was in the basement, once the storage room for the wine as it fermented so many years ago, was transformed into little wine tasting rooms. The picture helps to explain how it is set up. Each ‘student’ or taster is given their own sink and light, the light to check the color and consistency of the wine, and the sink to dispose of any extra wine and to clean their glass in between tastings. Supposedly, the true wine taster, just has a taste and gives their remarks, but anyone I know, wouldn’t be pouring any down the drain! Haha!         
Sadly, after spending three million euros in renovations on this magnificent building, because of the crisis here in Spain, the building, as beautiful as it has been transformed, is standing empty waiting for the next step, actually opening its doors to the public. But for this, sponsors must be found.
After our tour, Fermín treated our lovely tour guide to a coffee in a small jazz café to show our thanks and appreciation for giving his time to show us all around and teach us the history as well as the plans for the future of this awesome building. Hopefully when I come back to visit in a few years, I will be able to enter and see the Riojan art, culture, and wine featured here, just as the architect had once imagined! 
 
Gracias a Fermín, uno de mis intercambios fabulosos, y sus buenas conexiones con la gente de Logroño, nosotros tuvimos el privilegio de visitar un palacio en el centro de la ciudad que recientemente fue reformado con la idea de transformarlo al nuevo Centro Cultural del Rioja (CCR) con un diseño muy urbano. Como muchos de vosotros sabéis, si notáis de dónde viene el vino que bebéis, Rioja es una región muy conocida por su vino y es una gran parte de su cultura. Por eso, el arquitecto, Jesús Merino Pascual, diseñó las paredes del exterior para que parezca un ‘botellero’, el lugar en la bodega donde almacena el vino que ya está embotellado. ¿Qué piensas tú? ¿Están parecidos?
Cuando entramos el edificio, las reformas que han hecho me agobian un poco. Todo dentro había sido transformado a un sitio totalmente moderno, pero al mismo tiempo el arquitecto preservó alguna de la historia también. Nuestro guía nos enseñó muchas de las partes originales del edificio que el arquitecto decidió restaurar para combinar el pasado con el presente. Por ejemplo, las portadas originales todavía están con el escudo de armas de la familia que tenía el palacio antes, también algunos de los techos son los originales con rayas de vigas de madera.
Siguiendo nuestro tour, podía ver todo el potencial que tenga este edificio. Es obvio que el arquitecto pensó bien en cada cosa que construyó. Hay algunas salas mas pequeñas donde podría haber exhibiciones de arte, salones más grandes donde podría tener clases que enseñara la historia del vino de Rioja, y también un patio muy grande con mucho espacio donde podría invitar a mucha gente para presentar a un artista nuevo o un vino riojano recientemente premiado.
Desafortunadamente, después de gastar tres millones de euros para hacer las reformas en este edificio magnífico, debido a la crisis aquí en España, el edificio, tan bello como es, está vacío esperando el próximo paso.

Después de nuestro tour privado, Fermín invitó a nuestro guía a un café para decirle gracias por mostrarnos todo el edificio y enseñarnos toda la historia y los planes que tiene para el futuro. Espero en algunos años cuando visite Logroño otra vez, yo pueda entrar en este edificio y ver toda la cultura y arte riojana representada, precisamente como el arquitecto había imaginado.