Grupo La Rioja Alta, S.A. launches strategic project featuring old vineyards. The bush-trained vines average 50 years and are planted in small plots on idyllic slopes in Rioja Alavesa. Wines to be made in new experimental vinification area under construction at the Páganos, Álava winery.
A few months ago, the Torre de Oña winery launched a new, exciting project: the search, location and purchase of ‘Artisan Vineyards’.
Roberto Frías, head of the Agricultural Section of La Rioja Alta, S.A., owner of Torre de Oña, says that “these are redoubts, in danger of disappearing, of what was once traditional Rioja viticulture: small plots perfectly integrated into the landscape, located in unique, strategically chosen spots which have remained unaltered over the years.” They are “old, bush-trained vines with twisted shapes, many over a hundred years old, with different varieties providing a coupage within the same vineyard. High planting densities practically rule out mechanical tending practices and result in very small, top-quality productions.”
Guillermo de Aranzabal, President of Grupo La Rioja Alta, S.A. explained that this new strategic project launched by the winery responds to the question “What more can we do to improve our wines?” “During the last decades,” he said, “we have invested a lot in technology, in being self-sufficient in the vineyard, in renewing our barrels and so on, and now we believe that we can and should continue improving our grapes, applying a demanding, small winemaker philosophy, which has been taken up by the winery team with great enthusiasm and hope.”
Forty hectares of these vineyards have already been acquired to date and “we have set a target of 75 hectares (185 acres). In 2021, we made the grapes from the first 29 hectares, distributed in dozens of plots, and the result were very exciting, deep and original wines, with a great diversity of aromas and flavors,” says Aranzabal, announcing that “the construction of a small winery for highly selective winemaking in the interior of Torre de Oña, to gain a better understanding of these extraordinary plots and discover their true potential.” A new experimental winemaking area that will be ready for the next harvest and will have nine small tapered tanks, perfect for working separately with grapes from each parcel or plot.
Asked about the marketing of these wines, Aranzabal said that “we still don't know but, as I was told 35 years ago, when I joined the winery, ‘just worry about making good wines and, if they are good, people will ask for them.’ What we do know is that our ‘Artisan Vineyards’ allow us to explore a new and exciting path in our constant search for excellence in all our wines.”