Harvesting & Making Wine at Campo Viejo’s Winery (Part 2)
After our harvest and processing our grapes in Campo Viejo’s micro-winery we headed out onto the winery’s terrace for a spot of lunch before touring the complex and doing a proper bit of wine tasting (aside from what of the obscene amount we consumed that weekend we’d already drunk!). I think the winery wins the award for the place with the very best views and atmosphere I’ve ever eaten at. It was about a pleasant 30 degrees and it was great to sit next to and chat with Elena Adelle, Campo’s chief winemaker over lunch about her journey as a woman in a very male dominated industry with Roberto, one of the other winemakers translating for us.
I feel a bit let down now by the view of the garden and the old oak tree across the kitchen from where I usually work, after seeing the view out of one of Campo’s meeting rooms. Just seriously, look at that. So that the winery (they’ve been using it since it opened in 2001, they were nearer the town before) stayed sympathetic to its surroundings, Spanish architect Ignacio Quemada designed it so that it was mostly underground, so that only the top level was part of the landscape. The plateau was originally covered with wild herbs, which explains the rosemary planted up like vines you can see on the right.
You can imagine how excited we were when we first caught sight of this epic dish of paella. Rich yet light, and totally delicious. I’m not sure if this was the best paella I’ve ever had because it had the best flavour, or because I was eating it in the heart of Spanish wine country on such a beautiful terrace. Does it really matter?
I really enjoyed all of the salads I ate in Spain. Yes the leaves were nothing exciting, quite basic, watery varieties, but it was the way they were lightly dressed in really good Spanish olive oil, and sometimes just a touch of wine vinegar that made them sing. It is all about a perfect balance.
Over the entire weekend, while we ate a tonne of food, we only had two desserts; they’re something that does not nearly get the same billing as savoury options in the area. But also, when you’re drinking wine and it is hot, you find that you simply don’t need them. That is not to say what we are was not delicious; while I could only manage half of it (though I think that has more to do with how much of that paella I hoovered down!), this chocolate mousse cake slice was absolutely divine. Totally flawless.
After lunch we headed back inside the winery and underground to have a look at how they make and process the wines that we buy when we pick up a bottle of Campo. It is essentially the same process I described when we were working in the micro-winery, but on a simply staggering scale. The first wow moment of the tour was when we saw the rooms full of all the vats where the wine was fermented in its first stage from grape juice to our table. But honestly, the sheer scale of the operation was only about to become even more staggering.
This massive, temperature controlled (read: rather chilly!) warehouse houses all the wine that has aged in oak barrels (Campo uses both French and American oak), and then decanted into bottles and corked up to age some more. There are no labels on the bottles, but each rack is barcoded so everything can be found.
But again, that was nothing compared to our last stop on the tour of the building (before we went off to taste yet more wine!): the oak barrel storage. The next two photos show you barrels as far as the eye can see and stacked god knows how many deep. And keep in mind that each barrel contains about 300 bottles of wine…
I’ll leave you trying to count the barrels you can see in these photos and attempting to calculate how many bottles that is! Our tour was a bit special, but if you’re in La Rioja you can book to go on a hour and a half tour of the cellars and do a little wine tasting at the Campo winery. You can find out more information here.
I’m not sure which part of my weekend in Rioja I’m going to be sharing with you later on this week, but I do have posts I’m working on exploring Logroño City, the Guggenheim Museum, lunch at Nerua, the San Mateo Harvest Festival, exploring San Sebastián and dinner at Rekondo. Stay tuned!
I traveled to La Rioja as a guest of Campo Viejo.