– Gredos, Spain
Spanish-born Arturo Romera, former chef and baker, returned to Spain following his studies of Organic Agriculture in Copenhagen. His farming project, Agrícola Molineta, sits right among the mountains west of Madrid, in Gredos. Arthuro will host a workshop on regenerative agriculture/viticulture and his wines during the Natural Wine Festival A’dam, but let’s get you started here.
Gredos is an area suffering from decades of economic stagnation and rural depopulation in a once-rich winemaking region. Huge granite rocks interweave between vineyards, making mechanization and trellising nearly impossible. Grape growing here is more costly due to the lack of machinery and labor. On top of that, farmers average 70 years old, and plots are generally abandoned once they are gone.
The winemakers here would never refer to their wines as “organic,” though they’ve been farmed that way since the beginning. Herbicides or synthetic fertilizers never made it on an industrial scale to this region. Instead, the rich animal farming culture provides plenty of manure, and the constant mountain breeze keeps disease in check. Only powdered sulfur is applied to the vineyards after fruit set, if any at all.
This land that was once abandoned due to “sour grapes” which “did not ripen well” is -with climate change- now a very promising region. Gredos has short, dry springs, ideal for farming organically. Coupled with cool summer nights and high elevation, makes it one of the promising upcoming wine regions of Spain.
Gredos also provides an interesting range of white grapes, such as Albillo Real, Chelva, Chasselas Doré, and Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, to name a few. These grapes are typically diluted into Garnacha blends but are now being pursued for their uniqueness and adaptability.
Today, Arturo farms five plots of old Grenache vines ranging from 800-1200 meters, comprising 3 hectares. He also purchases grapes from other vineyards. Arturo Romera sees winemaking through the lens of permaculture and shapes the wines through the vineyard.
High elevation and poor granite soil force the vines to root deeper into the ground in source of nutrients, making for intense and flavorful wines. In the cellar, the focus is to produce light reds, meaning short maceration, whole bunch fermentation, and light extraction are favored. Arturo believes a soft and patient cellar hand can soften and accentuate, revealing the natural acidity and bright fruit profile of Grenache.
When asked for their preferred X-mas wine, Agrícola Molineta selected “Las Adventicias,” a blend of Grenache and all the herbs and botanicals growing in and around the vineyard: “A creature between a wine and a vermouth but with a lot less alcohol. It’s a drink to explore. You can have a glass or mix it with ice to drink it as an appetizer. Only 100 bottles were produced. An experiment to surprise the table.”
Cultivation: 2.6 ha rented + 0.4 ha owned
Production: 3,000 bottles/year
Varieties: Grenache, Chelva, Muscat Petit Grain, plus mixed local grapes
Approach: Permaculture, regenerative farming, organics.
Sulfites added: Unknown