The story of Bodegas Valduero started out in the small village of Gumiel de Mercado, located 16 km northeast of Aranda de Duero in the Burgos province of Spain. While not as recognisable to those outside of the wine world, the region has enjoyed a long tradition in winemaking and cultivated a reputation among connoisseurs.
It was there that Gregorio García Álvarez decided to turn his passion into a family-run winery now recognised as one of the most prestigious to have come out of Spain. In the 40 years since, his daughters, Yolanda and Carolina, are now at the forefront of the family business. We sat down with Carolina Garcia Viadero for an evening of wine tasting and learn what it is like to continue her father's winemaking legacy.
It seems your family has a long tradition in winemaking, can you tell us about that and how it all started?
We are third generation viticulturist, starting from my grandparents. My father founded the winery in the beginning of the 1980s. It started off as a small cellar with just making wine for family and friends. People loved it, so he decided to invest all the money into growing that passion as a business. He had a vision and a real passion for the land and the wine.
Did you always know you were going to continue this legacy?
We grew up in the vineyards. My sister and I started all of this at a very young age. Yolanda, however, always had it very clear in her mind that she wanted to be an agronomist. I decided to pursue my studies in business and after I graduated I came back to the winery with my sister and father. It was just meant to be. I don’t know if you believe in destiny, but it felt like it was written for us to create Valduero together.
And you fell in love with that ever since?
To dedicate your life to wine is a privilege. It brings you the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people from all around the world. We have this private barrel club called La Tenada de Bodegas Valduero, where you can buy your barrels and it’s as if you have your winery where you can come for events and tastings with friends. We have members like Plácido Domingo, the famous tenor, and the NBA player Pau Gasol. It’s a community that I’m very fortunate to be a part of.
What sets Valduero wines apart from other Spanish wines?
We treat our wines like a small piece of art. We begin with the land. The way we cultivate our grapes is very precise and in keeping with nature and its ecology. It’s a low yield production and that’s why you get a higher quality with each small batch that comes out. The three tunnel runs 40 metres deep underground and can harbour more than 1,000 barrels. The temperature is controlled by either using stainless steel vats and French oak barrels. Every step of the process is very much handcrafted, from harvesting to bottling. It tells a story about patience, time, and culture.
How was it like to start out in the winemaking world, especially since it seems to be a very male-dominated industry?
When we began, it was very uncommon for women to be in the industry, but it has changed since. For me starting out, it was more difficult because we didn’t have enough land to produce the types of wine that we wanted to and the market wasn’t built yet. In the 30 years since, we are now one of the three most prestigious wineries in Spain. We are very proud of the work that we’ve done. The main thing for us was to run Valduero not just as a business, but an industry. That's why we put our investment in giving you the best and the most exclusivity as winemakers. Our Valduero 12 Años, aged in four different types of oak for four years and then 10 more years in the bottle, ranks among the top ten most exclusive wines in Spain.
What is it like in the day of being a winemaker?
Yolanda as the chief winemaker is always out in the vineyards looking at the vines, the grapes, and tasting our wines. It’s a fantastic life. My responsibilities require me to travel more often, but I think it’s one of the best things about this business. I get to tell the story and history of our winery to consumers and people in the industry.
What’s the future for Valduero?
To expand into markets like India, Vietnam, and Australia. We’re seeing an emerging market in places like Vietnam where wine has become more of a cultural thing now.
All of this jetting off and running the winery seems very demanding. What does a perfect day off look like to you?
A perfect day for me would be waking up to ride a bike with my son and then have lunch with a beautiful glass of Valduero 6 Años. Have a walk in the fields around the estate and just to relax. I’m always travelling, so when I’m at home, it makes it more special.
Do you have a favourite destination to travel to?
I adore coming to Asia, to countries like Thailand. Whether it’s the rain or the greenery around, it feels like you’ll always find some beautiful moment to keep in memory.
One last thing to leave us with?
Life is too short to drink, so drink wisely and give Valduero a taste.