Can you carry landscapes in a bottle? Certainly, it is a metaphor that winemakers use to convey the idea that we embrace the philosophy of working with nature, taking great care of our grapevines while understanding and respecting the ecosystem they are rooted in.
Finca Valpiedra is the only winery in Rioja that is a member of the Spanish Association of Single-Vineyard Wineries (Asociación de Grandes Pagos de España). This private organization was established in 2000 as a response to the restrictions and loopholes in Spanish law, with the aim to uphold and promote wines made from grapes grown in a single estate that reflect the unique character of the vineyards’ topsoil, subsoil and microclimate.
It comes as no surprise that France was a pioneer in this regard; classifying vineyards into two basic groups, cru and grand cru, back in the nineteenth century. The two categories however, show variations across wine-growing regions. In Spain, the single-estate wine regulations came into force only when the general wine law was passed in 2003. Actually, some wineries included the term “Pago” on their wine labels before the wine law and today they continue to do so although their wines do not meet the requirements set forth in domestic legislation.
In Rioja, the notion of “Pago Calificado” (qualified single-vineyard designation), which Finca Valpiedra would belong to should it exist, has not been established yet, although it is envisaged in the wine law. In any case, at Familia Martínez Bujanda we consider a “Pago” as a vineyard whose characteristics (topsoil, microclimate, position, etc.) sets it apart from the surrounding vineyards and influence grape yield and quality, which are clearly superior year after year.
Finca Valpiedra is an exceptionally early “Pago” that grape harvest begins way before elsewhere in Rioja Alta. This, courtesy of the distinctive characteristics of its soil (gravel retains heat during the day and humidity at night) and its microclimate (very mild, influenced by the terraced vineyards that travel almost to the banks of the River Ebro).
We only grow native grape varieties, perfectly adapted to the vineyard’s environment, such as Tempranillo, Graciano, Maturana Tinta; a new red wine grape from the neighbouring area of Navarrete in Rioja and Viura. Also, we believe in sustainable viticulture that is respectful of the native flora and fauna in our 80-hectare estate.
In the words of our Technical Manager, Lauren Rosillo, we do not expect the wines from Finca Valpiedra to be the best in Rioja, but rather to accurately represent every single vintage, offering all their lovely and not-so-lovely surprises, and expressing the essence of the terroir. In 2013, for instance, at Finca Valpiedra we decided not to produce any wines because the grapes harvested were not as good as expected. In a nutshell, we want our bottles to contain the true richness of our landscape.