Spanish wine company Alma Carraovejas has acquired two Ribeiro wineries, Emilio Rojo and Viña Meín. Company executives say they hope the two small-production wine estates will further Alma Carraovejas' mission to highlight vineyards with unrealized potential. The sale prices were not disclosed.
The acquisitions bring the Alma Carraovejas' combined total vineyard land to nearly 500 acres. Most of that is part of Pago de Carraovejas (PDC), in Ribera del Duero. PDC was founded by José María Ruiz (the father of current CEO Pedro Ruiz Aragoneses) in 1991 and now boasts over 400 acres of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Ribeiro sits more than 250 miles to the west of Ribera del Duero, in Galicia. The region is home to many old, neglected hillside vineyards, some of which have been restored in recent decades as the local wine industry comes back to life. Viña Meín, which has 45 acres of vines, was founded in 1988 near the town of Leiro by a group of friends. The winery makes primarily white blends of Treixadura, Godello, Lado, Loureira, Torrontés and Albariño, along with a small amount of reds such as Caíño Tinto, Brancellao and Souson. Alma Carraovejas vice president of sales Paulo Cardoso told Wine Spectator that Aragoneses wants to simplify the portfolio of wines and tweak the blends, while maintaining the essence of the estate.
In an effort to bring more recognition to Viña Meín, Aragoneses plans to modernize the winery and make it a tourist destination, with a tasting room and tours of the appellation. They also want to increase exports to both U.S. and Chinese markets.
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Emilio Rojo is a former engineer who established his eponymous estate in 1987 after moving back to his native Galicia to restore ancient vineyard sites. Today he farms 5 acres. He will stay on-board. "Having Emilio's understanding [of the estate], which is so foreign to us, makes the project special," said Cardoso. Aragoneses plans to keep Rojo's old-school production methods while also giving him resources to ensure the quality of his wines. Rojo had more lucrative offers on the table, Cardoso said, but his autonomy in the winemaking process was crucial for him, and Alma Carraovejas guaranteed that.
Viña Meín makes 5,000 cases per year and Emilio Rojo produces much less. Both wineries are dwarfed by PDC's 50,000 cases per year, but the Carraovejas team emphasizes that the new acquisitions are not about numbers. Aragoneses' goal is to highlight Spain's lesser-known grapes and old vineyard sites. "If we can buy these lands, we will do it," said Cardoso. "It's more of a horizontal business growth structure, but you get to learn and try new projects."