Whether you are buying a birthday or Christmas gift, or buying a gift for a dad or grad, choosing the right gift can be intimidating. What is the perfect gift? Maybe it is the one that will be used, and shows appreciation or support for a hobby or favorite activity. So, if you're buying a gift for a someone who enjoys the outdoors, then here's an idea for you... a Spanish Bota.
What is a Bota?
You may have read the word wineskin in the Bible, or heard it in history class, but chances are unless you've visited Spain, you've never used one. Bota or bota de vino is the Spanish term for wineskin, a bag made from cured animal skin, used by shepherds and travelers to transport wine since Biblical times.
Today, most botas sold are latex-lined and can be used for any kind of liquid - water, soda, juice, etc. These modern botas require no maintenance, like the time-honored, pitch-lined botas.
Traditionally an ink stamp was used on the outside of botas, but it wasn't decorative. It was purely utilitarian. Most were stamped with the storage capacity - a "1" meant it would hold up to 1 liter, "1/2" a half liter, etc. Those sold to tourists in gift shops might be stamped with the name of the city, or drawing of a monument or tourist attraction.
Today, life is different. Botas aren't just for wine, and they aren't just for shepherds. They are used mainly by outdoorsmen, but they make great gifts for dads and grads who lead an active lifestyle, especially if the botas are personalized. In Spain custom-decorated or personalized botas have become popular to commemorate weddings, as well as publicity for clubs and businesses. Why not buy a decorated bota, or personalize one for that special person on your gift list, your dad or grad?
It is estimated that there are about fifteen artisan boterias (fabricators of wineskins) left in Spain. Below is a list of producers who sell on the internet:
- Calzados Beatria, a leather goods fabricator in Albacete, which will customize botas. Minimum order quantity is one hundred. (Site has an English button, but not every page appears in English.)
- Boteria Tres D.D.D. a traditional fabricator established in 1870, which manufactures and customizes botas. They offer pitch-lined and latex-lined botas. (Spanish-only site.)
- Wine Botas, a company located in Chicago, selling artisan botas imported from Spain, made by Jesus Blasco. These botas are interestingly hip, and seem to be the only company that sells multi-color printed designs. Click on the "Contact" link on top, to see how to contact them for personalized botas. (These are all latex-lined.) Botas de Jesus Blasco has an online store in Spain at www.mibotadevino.com.
- Botas Rioja is a small artisan fabricator in Logrono (la Rioja) established in 1865, famous for their work. Innovators in the bota business, they produce several styles and types of botas, including some made from calfskin, which allows complex, multi-color designs to be embroidered on the outside. Sold at several outlets in Spain, contact them via email for custom work. Contact email is provided on the site. (Spanish-only site.)