One of the forms of tourism closest to that relationship between human beings and nature is growing incessantly in Spain, which is agriculture, in this case viticulture, from which grapes and wine are born. The pleasant and superficial visit to a winery to taste some of its wines has been completed with more varied programs than the look at the barrels and the glass of wine. And the great protagonist is already incorporated into the experience, in many properties: the vineyard.
Wineries throughout Spain have expanded their wine tourism activities, and several have set up hotels and even Michelin-starred restaurants, as have two of the most prestigious in the Douro: Abadía Retuerta and Pago de Carraovejas.
So wine tourism is presented as one of the booming activities this summer. And, after an experience of an advanced version (with conferences on viticulture, environment and fight against climate change) organized days ago by Ribas, the oldest winery in Mallorca, and one of the oldest in Spain, founded in 1711, we can remember this activity both ecological and pleasant for the next holidays.
The importance of the vineyard
Bodegas Ribas is the Mallorcan member of a non-profit association founded 25 years ago by eight winemakers from both parts of the plateau and called Grandes Pagos de Castilla, today transformed into Grandes Pagos de España (GPE), with members throughout the country. His obsession was then a rarity that many others ignored: the important thing about wine is the vineyard, each vineyard with its own grape plantation, its soil and its subsoil. It is what, returning to Latin with "pagus", they called "pagos", determined and differentiated vineyards, something that in 2000 did not seem to interest anyone: the mixture of grapes from multiple vineyards, many of them bought from small winegrowers, was the basis of the culture of that time, of mass and technological production of cheap wines.
Although the bill on denominations of wines of payment that those pioneers of the return to traditions wrested from the Ministry of Agriculture was not properly respected, we ended up having denominations of wine of payment, The problem: instead of being attributed by independent viticultural experts, they were attributed to regional politicians ... friends of certain wineries. But something was advanced, and all the controversies of now about the wines of a single vineyard in Rioja are born of the movement created by those advanced, or those ancient, if you think that they wanted to restore classic and ecological viticulture.
Tasting of the wines of Ribas with good bites in the bay of Pollensa.
The other week, within a session of the GPE Knowledge Network at the headquarters of Bodegas Ribas in the Binissalem area, the association's technicians provided fundamental and fascinating data on how this branch of agriculture explores the fight against climate change: planting more vegetation around the vines to refresh them, changing the pruning systems so that the grapes grow better protected from the sun and heat, reducing the load and production of the vines... Even in dry areas where drip irrigation is used, viticulture makes minimal use of water compared to other crops such as corn.
So it seems that traditional and artisan viticulture, without aspirations to produce huge quantities, faces climate change with better prospects than many other crops, and as an example for them. And, at the same time, it continues to give more character and personality to its wines – without so much recourse to the trick of new oak barrels – than it did during the technological era of wine.
Go and visit, then, those wine estates of GPE, know their vineyards and their wines without tricks but with personality born of the land.
There are currently 38:
La Rioja: Finca Valpiedra, Valdespino.
Navarre: Chivite, Property of Arínzano.
Basque Country: Astobiza.
Catalonia: Clos d'Agon, Gramona, Cérvoles, Mas Doix.
Community of Valencia: Mustiguillo, Enrique Mendoza.
Castile and Leon: Mauro, Numanthia, San Román, Alonso del Yerro, Sei Solo, Abadía Retuerta, Fuentes del Silencio, Belondrade, Aalto, Finca Montepedroso.
Castile-La Mancha: Marqués de Griñón, Dehesa del Carrizal, Vallegarcía, Calzadilla, Finca Élez, Finca Sandoval.
Extremadura: Burnt Palace.
Andalusia: Alvear, Valdespino, Finca Moncloa.
According to the criteria of The Trust Project