The Pago de Carraovejas winery is located in the Ribera del Duero, where tradition is combined with modern facilities, and where a conservative inertia is challenged through producing wines with studied percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in a region where Tinto Fino seems to dominate. It is this open mentality that has helped define the character of the winery, which understands the importance and brings together research and creativity, viticulture and oenology, experience and technology, and innovation and personality.
Since its founding, Pago Carraovejas has followed viticultural practises of the region, clean yet rich in contrasts. The winery has also always worked under the believe that the integration of the elements is of the upmost importance, under the premise that the wine comes from the vine, the water, the earth ... in a climatic environment that favours ripening. Therefore, in Pago Carraovejas the need to first acquire a thorough understanding of nature and the environment in which all the senses search methodology, tradition and innovation was created. A philosophy of action that lies in being able to conceive and customize their wines from the vineyard, whose manufacturing process always starts with the first day of the agricultural calendar.
Desde sus inicios, en Pago Carraovejas se ha practicado la cultura vitivinícola de la zona, sana y rica en contrastes, pero ha buscado siempre los elementos de integración más significativos bajo la premisa de que el vino nace de la vid, el agua, la tierra... en un entorno climático que favorece su maduración. Por ello, en Pago Carraovejas se creó la necesidad de adquirir previamente un conocimiento pleno de la naturaleza y el entorno, en el que participaron todos los sentidos de búsqueda, metodología, tradición e innovación. Una filosofía de actuación que radica en poder concebir y personalizar sus vinos desde el viñedo, cuyo proceso de elaboración empieza siempre con el primer día del calendario agrícola.
This philosophy, of expressing the identity of the terroir and fruit, has led to the Pago Carraovejas to work with the upmost care on their 160 hectares of vineyards, paying attention to the different plots, their soils, altitudes, orientations and microclimates, ensuring that each grape variety is perfectly acclimatized on the best plot. In short, along with limited production it is a way of acting that shows a commitment to quality, maintaining the dynamic and selective traits required by the wines of Ribera del Duero.
History of the Winery
It was back in the 1970’s when José María Ruiz, a curious young man from Segovia, was called to represent Spain in the Primer Concurso Mundial de Sumilleres (World Sommelier Competition) held in Milan. Back then, Spain did not enjoy the prestige and critical recognition that it does today, but José María Ruiz managed to achieve 5th place against 60 other countries.
But the most important moment was not the result of this competition, but when José María Ruiz opened his own restaurant, along with their own wine. Opened in 1982, the Restaurante José María was where the ideas of the young and curious man begin to take shape. José María Ruiz began to transform the very concept of wine as it was served in the hearty Castilian Taverns.
5 years later in 1987, José María Ruiz led a group of wine loving Segovians and together they conceived the idea of creating a winery in a region that would go on to produce good reds. They chose to begin their adventure on the slopes of Carraovejas, Peñafiel, three kilometres from Peñafiel, All they had to add was a component of quality and technological edge to optimize the already favorable conditions the area offered. This formula allowed them to make the first Ribera del Duero wine containing 25 % of Cabernet Sauvignon at a time the Tinto Fino grape ruled absolute. They were also pioneers in bringing French oak barrels to the Ribera del Duero and to install drip irrigation in the estate, a system that provides the exact amount of water to the vines in a rational and specific manner, improving the quality of the red grape allocated for crianzas and reservas.
Pago Carraovejas enjoyed its first vintage 4 years later in 1991 from its 25 hectares of vineyards. In the following years the vineyard would go on to grow in size through the slow and continuous acquisition of land, not forgetting to place quality over quantity. Currently the winery is home to over 160 hectares of vineyards.
Currently the winery is home to modern facilities, where it combines the use of tradition techniques together with the most advanced technologies, always with a deep respect for the natural processes. Since 2007, Pedro Ruiz, the son of José María, has been in charge of running the winery, maintaining and promoting the values of a family business.
Ever since its foundation, Pago Carraovejas has worked extensively to ensure that they reach a level of excellence at every stage of the winemaking process.
Firstly, the soils at the vineyard are studied in depth. Some areas are home to sandy loam soils, with slight limestone content and abundant in stone. Others are very sandy, which offers a wealth and diversity in the terroir. The vineyards are cultivated using the most up to date viticulture techniques, respecting the needs and characteristics of each individual plot. The winery only works with its own clonal selection of clusters and the distinction of micro ecosystems present in their fermentation, and only uses native yeasts, which gives their wines a real sense of unique character.
On the vineyards the winery carries out various tasks, such as pruning and desnietado (which is thinning and the clusters by removing leaves and low quality grapes), to ensure that the plants produce the highest quality grapes. The winery only cultivates and grows three types Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The winery uses various different pruning methods: We use different pruning methods: Cordon Royat double and head pruning to obtain goblet shaped vines, two viticultural techniques adapted to the orography of the land that can also be defined as traditional viticulture (for the vines growing in the valley floor) , and montane viticulture (for vines growing in the hill slopes). These factors help define the character of the terroir and its wines: Autor, Crianza, Reserva, El Anejón de la Cuesta de las Liebres and el Vendimia Seleccionada Cuesta de las Liebres.
The grapes used by Pago de Carraovejas are selected during the vegetative cycle and are only harvested at the optimum point of maturation, where they are then taken to the winery in small stainless steel trailers. Grapes that are outsourced also come from external suppliers are also grown under the result of meticulous work to study its evolution and maturation, as checked by a team of specialized technicians, responsible for checking that all winegrowers meet the stringent quality parameters required by the winery. The harvested grapes reach the winery in small crates and go through the grading table traveling on a conveyor system to the destemming stations before going into the OVI (the flying delivery container) that is hoisted and positioned over each tank to let the grapes gently fall by gravity.Transporting the grapes is always done with the use of gravity. Alcoholic and Malolactic fermentation is carried out in stainless steel tanks and French oak vats located in an impressive fermentation ship using its own yeasts, selected and developed by the I+D+I team. The winery is home to over 3,000 French and American oak barrels to age their wine, none of which are over 3 years old.
During the process, organoleptic tasting is carried out to help determine which grapes will produce which wine; either their Autor, Crianza, Liebres Vendimia Seleccionada, Reserva or El Anejón de la Cuesta de las Liebres, the last two are only produced in the best vintages, while their wine Cuesta de las Liebres Vendimia Seleccionada is only produced in exceptional vintages. After the ageing process, all of the wines are then clarified naturally with egg white. The wines are usually bottled in the spring, where they remain for 6-24 months before being put onto the market. The winery in total produces around 750,000 bottles per year, depending on production and the characteristics of each vintage.
The winery has currently has about 18,000 m2 of floor area to house the facilities, having renewed the old part of the winery. The aim of the latest additions and renovations is to facilitate the work, maintaining a leading position in technology and winemaking while respecting traditional techniques that have made payment Carraovejas a standard of quality in the Ribera del Duero.
Wines from the Pago de Carraovejas Winery.
Currently there are 5 Pago Carraovejas wines, although their red wine “Autor” is only sold in the restaurant of José María, while their Reserva and Anejón de la Cuesta de las Liebres is only produced in the best vintages and their Liebres Vendimia Seleccionada only appears on the market during exceptional harvests.
Pago Carraovejas Author. This is ared wine that is certified by the brand Tierra de Sabor, supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of the Junta de Castilla y León, ensuring customers and consumers to identify the origin and authenticity of the product accurately, ensuring itself a high level of quality.
Pago de Carraovejas Crianza. This wine is a blend of three different grape varieties, Tinto Fino (83%), Cabernet Sauvignon (12%) and Merlot (5%) (Although the percentage can vary by vintage). Fermentation is carried out in small stainless steel tanks and oak vats with using native bacteria and yeasts to help the wine express the characteristics of the terroir and give a unique taste on each vintage. The wine comes in barrels always using gravity. It has been 12 months in selected barrels extra fine grain French and American oak, and is finally clarified with natural egg white.
Pago de Carraovejas Reserva. This wine is a blend of two different grape varieties: Tinto Fino (76%) and Merlot (8%), although the percentages can vary by crop. Fermentation takes place in small stainless steel tanks and French oak vats using native yeasts. The wine is then aged for 12 months in extra fine grain French oak barrels, where it is then clarified naturally with egg white. The wine then rests for another 36 months in the bottle before being placed onto the market.
El Anejón de Cuesta de las Liebres. This wine is a blend of three different grape varieties: Tinto Fino (91%), Cabernet Sauvignon (4%) and Merlot (5%), although percentages can vary with the harvests. The grapes used for this wine come from a plot located on a hillside at 900m altitude, with slopes ranging between 30% and 40% gradient, cultivated using an established system of terraces. The alcoholic and malolactic fermentation is carried out in small wooden vats of French oak with native yeasts and bacteria, and remains about 12 months in selected barrels superfine grain French oak, clarified with natural egg white.
Pago de Carraovejas Cuesta de las Liebres. This is a single variety wine made with Tinto Fino (100%) grapes that come from a plot planted back in 1994. The vineyard is located on a hillside at an altitude of 900 metres, with slopes ranging between 30% and 40% gradients. The vineyards are home to soils that have a loamy texture, limestone minerality and presence of white calcareous salts. The alcoholic and malolactic fermentation is carried out in small wooden vats of French oak with native yeasts and bacteria, and remains about 24 months in selected barrels superfine grain French oak, clarified with natural egg white.