"Happiness is hiding in happiness' waiting room…"
The time was the 70’s, when José María Ruiz, a young Segovian full of energy and curiosity, was selected to represent Spain at the first Sommelier World Challenge organized by the International Organization of Vine and Wine in Milan.
The culture of wine in Spain did not have the importance or the popular and professional recognition that it enjoys today, nevertheless José María Ruiz and his colleague “Pedraza” earned a proud 5th place amongst contestants from more than 60 countries. What was gained, however, was more than the prize.
This experience was the catalyst that precipitated the fermentation of the ideas that this young man was turning around in his head: his desire to start his own restaurant, with his own idea of what a “cochinillo” cuisine should be, raise his own piglets, andgrow his own wine so all these elements would complement each other masterfully.
"Some men fight for one day and they are good men. Some men fight for a year and are very good men. Some men fight for years and they are better men… but some men fight all their life, and those are the men we cannot do without."
In 1982 the Restaurante José María opened its doors in Segovia and the ideas of the young and curious man begin to take shape. José María Ruiz starts by transforming the very concept of wine as it was served in the hearty Castilian Taverns. He began by eliminating the traditional pottery pitcher in which it was served and started serving bottled wine, caring meticulously about the presentation, right temperature, conditions and the serving protocol.
The Ribera was then unknown as wine making region, but Jose María’s vigorous efforts to improve the role and treatment of wine in his restaurant had led him to become an ardent explorer of the land and the wines of the area. He was absolutely sure he wanted his wine -to perfectly match the “Cochinillo” or roasted suckling piglet-, coming from this region.
José María, already aware –back in those early times- of Ribera del Duero’s immense potential, knew this region was the right place to turn his dream into reality: he would create his own wine with those grapes…
In 1987 José María Ruiz leads a group of wine loving Segovians and together they conceive the idea of creating a winery in a region that can produce good reds. Three reasons made them choose the hillsidesof Carraovejas, in Peñafiel. First, Peñafiel had been historically the hub of the Ribera del Duero winemaking region, and the area with more potential of all the Spanish wine making regions. Second, its proximity to Segovia. And third and probably the most important reason, because the elders of the village remembered the hillsides of Carraovejas as the best grape ripening site, as later confirmed bynumerous studies.
Definitely, choosing the right location, land and climate was essential. Three kilometers outside Peñafiel, in the sunny settlement formed by the valleys of the Botijas River, a tributary of the DueroRiver – only four kilometers apart – the land enjoys a microclimate created by the sweetening influence of the Duero River, the dominant west winds that keep the vines healthy and the south facing aspect ofthe softly rolling hillsides, sheltered from the damaging effects of the north wind and devastation from the spring frosts and autumn freezes. The perfect conditions for a thriving vineyard: sun and air.
They had found the place and it was Carraovejas. All they had to add was a component of quality and technological edge to optimize the already favorable conditions the area offered. This formula allowedthem to make the first Ribera del Duero wine containing 25 % of Cabernet Sauvignon at a time the Tinto Fino grape ruled all. 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.
"The only way to do a great job is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart you'll know when you find it."
In 1991, from the barely 70,000 kilos produced by the first 25 hectares planted, we had the first harvest from our Pago de Carraovejas. As the years went by both vineyard and winery evolved in successive, continuous but well meditated waves of expansion, always ruled by our “quality first” criteria until we reached our current 200 hectares planted.
The winery has now more than 14,000 square meters of modern facilities where tradition and creative innovation go hand in hand with state of the art technology and a deeply ingrained respect for naturalprocesses. Our never-ending search for ongoing improvement is channeled investing in different research, development and innovation projects.