Tassio de la Vega (Bodegas Oissat): “Architecture and wine are nothing without an underlying concept”
Tassio de la Vega’s gaze as he contemplates the horizon beyond his winery is like the wind that sets forth, is lost and then returns, bearing clouds replete with dreams and ideas. From childhood, his eyes have focused on the teachings of those who respect harmony between ordinary mortals and giants, between man and his environment, between perennial nature and the fleeting present. Throughout the years, the wind kept stirring a restlessness within Tassio de la Vega, forging a creative instinct that has never stopped asking questions. He had to stop the hands of the clock. The lines mapped by time found their way onto paper, and he embarked on a prolific career as an architect. A tireless traveller, he searched for answers to enable him to realise his ideas. But as his idol Mies van der Rohe once said, “the only questions that make sense are the ones concerning the essence of things”. Now his moment has arrived. At the age of 27, it is time for him to drive forward Bodegas Oissat, a project starring wine and architecture as clandestine lovers.
What leads an architect to establish wineries? What personal bond does he have with the world of wine?
It is a vital necessity. Oissat is an initiative in which we make wine in order to escape the constraints of our comfort zone. As an architect, I have travelled and I’ve seen how they work in other parts of the world, such as Shanghai, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, etc. With what I’ve learnt, I wanted to showcase the creative force set against convention, set against a more controlled approach, and without constraints. It is a reflection of my own life: through hard work and endeavour, my parents and I have succeeded in taking forward an engineering and architecture firm of which I am extremely proud—but I have always wanted to fuel the inner flame of creativity. That was the energy that drove me to create the winery and to get it up and running. For an architect, wine should act as a benchmark, because everything in life is architecture. To create from nothing a dwelling or a family home… That is how you get to make wine: once you have chosen your plot, everything depends on creating a new concept… Architecture and wine are nothing without an underlying concept.
Oissat is the result of my upbringing and the values that have been instilled in me
What philosophy underpins your work?
Values. Our rosé wine is called ‘Valeur’ and is a reflection of what Oissat tries to convey. We are a new brand with a fresh image, but there is no future without a past. My relationship with my family has made me an independent, complex person, with an original way of thinking. My family is clearly and constantly referenced throughout the entire product range. The winery is the result of my upbringing and the values that have been instilled in me.
What is your role at Oissat?
I believe in the concept of ‘Renaissance Man’ who generously contributes his knowledge and effort to every area of activity in which he is involved. But in the case of Oissat there is a middle ground between that ‘Renaissance Man’ and a large team of people ready to work their fingers to the bone for the sake of an idea. I’d be lying if I said that I’ve done all the work on this project, because there are very strong, enthusiastic people who have helped me significantly. But it is true that I am, as the head of the winery, the ‘driving force’ or, to put it another way… the delivery man. I like to be part of the team and control the entire process from start to finish. Because the only way to make the process your own and to make others believe in the project and take ownership of it, is by working hard, persevering and always being there.
The only way to make others believe in the project and take ownership of it, is by working hard, persevering and always being there
What grape varieties and designations of origin do you work with?
My wine is my life: it contains my soul. Our white wine, ‘Cor Aviam’ (‘Grandmother’s Heart’), is a Verdejo, from vineyards in La Seca, Valladolid. It is our simplest line; as its name suggests, it is all heart. Since I was very young, I have lived with my grandmother and I love her dearly: hence this wine. It is an easy-drinking wine, with a remarkably fresh bouquet, which is how I think of that stage of my life. Then we move on to the teenage years. Like all families, we have been through all sorts of problems, and during my teenage years, my character became so much more concentrated and defined. The wine ‘Passionnant’ (from the Tempranillo grape) breaks with the Rioja tradition. This wine is harvested manually, using a completely traditional process: I personally have even taken part in the punching down… It was a risky and novel undertaking. This wine reflects my personality when I was young, with my great ambitions, and my decisions, both wise and foolish. You either love it or hate it. And the third type is our flagship wine. Its name is ‘Valeur’; it is a polyvarietal wine, made with Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Grenache, and it is produced in Provence, France. It is very special because it reflects the complex situations experienced by my family. They have overcome a series of problems, and they have always managed to keep moving forward. They have given me a vast amount of strength to cope with failures, and it has been this, more than anything, that has forged my personality. This rosé wine reflects that strength and represents success achieved through perseverance, endeavour and, most of all, striving to be a good person.
What makes a good wine for you?
A good moment. I believe that wine is nothing unless it creates a good moment. If the wine has plenty of soul, and can make itself understood, it will deliver a good moment.
Does a good wine have to be expensive?
No, far from it. I am so tired and fed up with the “expensive wine equals good wine” idea. Obviously, there are very expensive wines that are also very good, but at the outset they didn’t have a high price: it is only after achieving a high score that they have doubled in price. We shouldn’t allow price to distract us…, because there are small producers making great quality wines—they just haven’t been discovered yet. We should all pay close attention to them.
I am so tired and fed up with the ‘expensive wine equals good wine’ idea
What will be the next steps for Oissat?
Oissat is a brand that understands the value of creating something fresh with fresh minds. Oissat will follow in the footsteps of other alcoholic drinks like rum and vodka. The next step is to set up schools in Africa. We have plans to develop a rum, with the support of a trust that we’re going to establish, to donate part of the proceeds from sales to this project. We want to use this development to benefit children and, above all, to bring to life a project in which we believe and to which we hope to bring added value.