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Vinifera simply refers to grape vines. As previously discussed, we focus primarily on Spanish grapes, in particular, tempranillo. Tempranillo is the principal red varietal which we cultivate, while Verdejo is our principal white varietal. Additional information on these two varietals is shown below:

Tempranillo Facts

Tempranillo is Spain’s indigenous “Noble Grape.” In fact, in the Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson says that Tempranillo is Spain’s answer to Cabernet Sauvignon. Tempranillo is the centerpiece of fine Spanish Rioja wines as well as the “new age” wines coming from the Ribera del Duero and Toro regions.

Legend has it that Tempranillo was brought to Spain by French monks on pilgrimage from Burgundy to Santiago de Compostele, and that it is a variant of Pinot Noir. The latter claim has never been substantiated and research indicates that it is more likely that Tempranillo originated in northern Spain and then spread to the rest of the country. What is not in question is that Tempranillo is the superstar of Spanish grapes, and one with a sometimes confusing array of different names, at least in Spain. While known by its international name “Tempranillo” in La Rioja, it is called “Cencibel” in La Mancha and Valdepenas; “Ull de Liebre” (eye of the hare) in Catalonia; “Tinta de Pais” or “Tinto Fino” in Ribera del Duero and “Tinta de Toro” in, of course, Toro.

Tempranillo takes its name from the Spanish word temprano, which means “early”, a reference to the fact that this grape variety ripens sooner than many other traditional varieties. It buds late and needs only a relatively short growing season with hot days and cool nights to preserve the fruit’s acidity. A vigorous vine, Tempranillo is best suited to chalky or sandy clay slopes which are not too arid. The thick skinned, deep blue-black berries are high in color and extract. Tempranillo can be enjoyed immediately or it can make wines that are very elegant, with great structure and aging potential.

Verdejo Facts

Verdejo is thought to have first been planted by the Moors, who settled in Spain in the 12th century. But like many indigenous white grapes in Spain, it was mostly wiped out during the late 19th-century phylloxera crisis, and replanted with other grapes from hybrid vines that are easier to grow. However, in the 1970s, Bodega Marques de Riscal saw the potential in reviving traditional local grapes and, with the help of French oenologist Émile Peynaud, replanted Verdejo in Rueda. Other bodegas followed and today, Verdejo is the signature grape of the region. Similar in style and characteristics to Pinot Gris, Verdejo fully expresses itself in Rueda where it showcases lemon and citrus, minerality and above all, a sharp acidity which makes it compelling with the tapas so that are so ubiquitous around the region. From a phenology standpoint, verdejo is very similar to tempranillo, as it also buds late and ripens early.