Hacienda Zorita· Natural Reserve
D.O. ARRIBES DEL DUERO
Back in 2000 Carmelo and Víctor were looking for new place in the Duero Valley, to continue building their new family of wines beyond Rioja. They searched near and far... and finally decided to go off the beaten track.
Why here of all places in the Duero Valley? Arribes del Duero was a land of opportunity.
This is the furthest point one could possibly go along the Duero riverbanks in Spain. Only Unamuno had gone this far before and that was in the early 20th century! Before we arrived, only a few cooperatives were making wine from the local Juan García grapes, gathered by small plot farmers. Without blowing our own trumpet - in a way we started a revolution here.
Portugal, just across the Duero River, had flourishing vineyards along its steep terraced hillside. Here is where the great Port wines are born and we’re only 200km away from the city that gives them the name. In comparison, the Spanish boarder looked bare for no apparent reason.
We set up shop here and the D.O. arrived a few months later.
THE UNAMUNO VINEYARD
We found an empty estate, right next to where the 800m high central plateau ends, only to drop down to 100m - almost like a staircase! This creates a truly unique and distinct microclimate, which combines the Atlantic Ocean influence with the harsh continental climate of central Spain.
The soil was a bit of a challenge. The top layer was a mere 70 cm of sand, followed by a thick slab of granite! Nourishing vines here was almost like caring for an infant – we had to make sure the vines got enough nutrients to grow lean & fit, without them taking in too much, resulting in less intense fruits. To help them reach the ground water, we actually had to break up the granite so the roots would find their way through the cracks.
We brought in the expert Richard Smart, aka “the flying vine-doctor”, to advise us on what grape would thrive to extraordinary levels of quality here. He told us that making fantastic indigenous Tempranillo wines here would be easy… but challenged us to pioneer Syrah wines in Arribes de Duero. We soon found out it we had met our match!
Truth be told, we had a few issues with strict local rules on following traditional methods. Nowadays we have 70ha of carefully maintained vines, where we use the latest viticulture techniques, including the Smart-Dyson canopy management and drip irrigation system. We grow international varieties (Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) as well as Spain’s indigenous Tempranillo, all handpicked and carefully selected.