Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Do you know what´s a "guardaviñas" in spanish? We're not talking about a person, but a rural building. Since the late nineteenth century, farmers in La Rioja have raised a kind of huts made with stones and with many utilities in their daily work in the vineyards. It is a circular structure with vertical walls and converging at a central point by a dome. Some, the biggest, have an opening at the top of the dome in order to let out the smoke when they cooked inside.

The "guardaviñas", also called "chozos" in spanish, were used as shelter during the cold winter, shaded in the summer,  as a storehouse for winegrowing tools, and even they were an burglar alarma because if there were a "guardaviñas", could be one person inside. Normally, a tree was planted right next door, to enhance the shadow over the hut during the summer and to tie the animals while the winegrower was resting inside. The "guardaviñas" were built with the stones founded plowing in vineyards, mostly pieces of sandstone, so typical and common in this part of La Rioja.

Anyway, two weekends ago riding our mountain bikes my brother an i were surprised by a rainfall so typical in this season. Fortunately, the stronger it was raining we saw a "guardaviñas" on the vineyard next to the path and we do not hesitate to shelter inside. Then, although we had seen it so many times, we really realized that  when there were no cars, no tractors and when winegrowers spent lot of hours working in the vineyards, these "guardaviñas" offered them an important role: a rudimentary but necessary shelter to adverse situations.

Raining outside, we took our sandwiches and we ate relatively comfortable sitting on some rocks inside. The while we spent in that beautiful hut, we appreciated that the current owner had kept it so clean and well maintained. We want to congratulate to all those winegrowers who have now a "guardaviñas" in their vineyards, preserved and well maintained. After all, the "guardaviñas" or "chozos" are a symbol for Rioja wine.

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