Victor F. Pascual Artacho welcomes us to La Rioja
One thing that’s obvious in La Rioja is that the region’s winemakers are as knowledgeable about wine as they are passionate about producing it.
Perhaps nobody better exemplifies that combination of knowledge and passion than Victor F. Pascual Artacho – master winemaker for Campo Viejo and President of the Denominación de Origen for the region.
Victor was gracious enough to welcome us to his winery and tell us what he feels Denominación de Origen Rioja really means:
“The Denominación Rioja was created in 1926,” he explains, “with the fundamental objective of ensuring the quality of wine that’s sold under the name ‘Rioja.”
“Today, the D.O.C. also controls the promotion of Rioja as a brand; working with regional winemakers to make sure we all share the same vision of what the name Rioja should mean to consumers.”
“The message we want to give is that La Rioja is a winemaking region that’s established, but dynamic – producing wines that are both modern and traditional.”
“Part of Rioja’s appeal is how our wine has grown from the culture and history of the region, and comes with a guarantee of tradition and quality – but we also want people to discover the grand diversity of wine offered by the bodegas of Rioja, and the different personalities of our many grape varietals.”
Marketing Rioja as a name and a winemaking region is a responsibility Victor takes very seriously.
“We’ve invested in considerable promotion for D.O.C. Rioja, with the strategy of encouraging sales around the world. In the United States alone, for example, we have a staff of 20 dedicated purely to the promotion of Rioja.”
Through that promotion, Victor is keen to communicate the commitment local winemakers have to blending the traditional with the modern; a strategy mirrored by the methods he uses to market Rioja to new consumers – methods that span both traditional media and emerging technologies.
“We’re always marketing ourselves with new methods; most recently with social media – Facebook and Twitter – and other modern forms of digital publicity. In the United States, for example, we now have an Internet community called“Friends of Rioja” which includes over 90,000 members.”
In many ways, Victor feels that the way D.O.C. Rioja is evolving its marketing techniques is indicative of the Rioja winemaking tradition itself:
“We have made wine in La Rioja for thousands of years,” he explains, “and throughout that time, we’ve always been evolving and improving our methods to make a better product.” Their marketing follows that same model.
It’s fascinating to see how passionate Victor is – not just about making wine in La Rioja, but also communicating to people how this venerable winemaking region still retains a commitment to innovation – one people forget has existed thousands of years.
If there’s anything we’ve learned coming to La Rioja and speaking to Victor, it’s how this region tries to embrace a ‘new world’ attitude despite being a very recognizable part of the traditional ‘old world’.
It’s a concept that’s challenged our preconceptions about Rioja wine; as have many of the exciting new wines we’ve discovered while we’ve been here.