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news • October 27th, 2023

Artisan Vineyards from La Rioja Alta, S.A.


La Rioja Alta, S.A. presents its 'Artisan Vineyards'. Some are centuries old, located in privileged and remote places, mainly in Rioja Alavesa, and which allows them to protect and guarantee the existence of these old vineyards and at the same time explore a new path in the constant search for excellence in their wines.

In 2021, our partner, La Rioja Alta, S.A. began a new and exciting project: the search, location, and acquisition of 'Artisan Vineyards'. These vineyards were once the traditional viticulture method of Rioja and now are in danger of disappearing.

These tiny plots are perfectly integrated into the landscape, located in strategic places, have not suffered any alteration over the years and are old plants, with twisted, leathery, and ancient physiognomy. Their nutrition is so scarce, they have deep roots looking for water and food that the soil offers, the sun is practically their only food and the plants respond by giving modest crops, small grains, and loose clusters. A small quantity but of excellent quality, as they have seen in the three harvests (2021, 2022 and 2023) that they have been able to carry out in these vines where the Tempranillo predominates.

La Rioja Alta, S.A. has taken a step back in time. In some cases, five generations, from great-great-grandchildren to great-great-grandchildren, wanting to recover the wisdom of the ancestral, authentic winegrower and emulate this respectful and artisanal work. They are convinced that, achieving this, a promising present and future opens up.

The opinion of Guillermo de Aranzabal Agudo, President of La Rioja Alta S.A.

“Since 1890, we always have a question in the air at La Rioja Alta, S.A.: What can we do to improve our wines?” During the last decades, we have invested heavily in technology, in the vineyard until we achieved self-sufficiency, we have renewed the barrel park, obtained a magnificent oenological team... What more can we do to improve the wines?

The answer is the same as always: Improve the grape. And we decided to become winegrowers. We believed that applying this small winegrower philosophy in La Rioja Alta, S.A. was going to be complicated, but, once again, the winery surprised me. The entire team embraced this proposal with enthusiasm and many plans and hopes.

In 2021 we began to acquire old plots located on idyllic slopes, carasoles from Rioja Alavesa, vineyards with an average age of 50 years, high planting densities, with the blending of varieties in the vineyard itself, very small productions, sometimes without possibility of mechanical work. In short: old vineyards that require a lot, a lot of work. We call them 'Artisan Vineyards'.

In the 2021 harvest we process the grapes from the first 29 hectares spread across dozens of plots. They are exciting, deep and original wines, with a great diversity of aromas and flavors, as we have also confirmed in 2022 and in the recently completed 2023 campaign.

Initially we set ourselves the goal of reaching 75 hectares. Today we already have 70 hectares spread over more than 120 plots where the average surface area is around 0.4 hectares.

To complete this project, we built a small, very selective winemaking cellar that is allowing us to get to know each of these extraordinary plots much better and thus discover their true potential. This space has nine small truncated conical fermentation tanks, with an individual capacity of 6,000 liters, perfect for working separately with the grapes from each site or plot.

Another question arises: now that we have these unique wines, what are we going to do with them? We still don't know but, as they told me when I entered the winery 35 years ago… Only worry about making good wines, and if they are good, they will ask you for them.”

La Rioja Alta, S.A. begins this strategic, long-term project, whose evolution they want to slowly enjoy with their clients and friends, spread across the more than 80 countries in which they currently have a presence with their wines.