After almost forty years in the wine business I have to confess that the business side is getting more boring every day – regulation after regulation by the European Union, legal battles with Argentina to defend the name ‘Rioja’, the ongoing disputes between the farmers and the wineries in the Rioja Regulatory Council, the 67 year old president of the Council who doesn’t know when to quit…. I could go on forever.
Fortunately, wine as a beverage continues to fascinate me in spite of the fact that lately my wife and I rarely finish a bottle at a single sitting. This week I ran into two young people that have renewed my faith in the capacity of the wine business to innovate.
Juan Bautista García (the winemaker) and Ana Fernández (international sales) are young adults who wondered why their friends didn’t drink wine. Fortunately, Juan Bautista’s parents owned a small Rioja winery and 40 hectares of vineyards so they had something to sink their teeth into.
Things have started out well for Juan Bautista and Ana. Their wines have won gold medals in international wine tastings and received top scores in the ABC (a Spanish newspaper) Wine Guide which has created tons of interest in the brand.
I tasted the Paco García ‘Seis’ (meaning with six months’ ageing in oak, something they’re not allowed to put on the back label by the Regulatory Council – boring, boring – so they express it as part of the brand) and loved its fresh, grapey aroma and flavor that invites one to keep sipping. I bought a bottle of their ‘crianza’ and will try it soon, along with their top wine, Beautiful Things, that I wasn’t able to carry home from the wine shop.
The label is a handprint of Juan Bautista’s father Paco, representing his status as the ‘alma pater’ and inspiration for the project. The winery’s motto is ‘vinos que dejan huella’ (‘wines that make an impression’, an allusion to Paco García’s handprint).
On the back label you can read ‘Ad astra, carpe noctem, nessun dorma.’ (Reach for the stars, live the night, let no one sleep.), a philosophical statement that is sure to resonate with young wine drinkers.
I’m sure Juan Bautista and Ana will be very successful as well as have a lot of fun with this new project. I hope more young winemakers follow their lead.