This autumn I had the chance to visit one of the Rioja’s largest wine producers Campo Viejo thanks to the very nice people at Pernod Ricard and I have to admit it was perhaps the most impressive visit I’ve ever done. Not only for the scale – producing 24 million bottles is no easy task – but also for the attention to detail and the thought that went into every element.
Not surprisingly the figures were mind-blowing: grapes harvested from 4700 hectares vinified separately in 320 steel vats. A warehouse where 5 million bottles of wine were left to age, 70,000 oak barriques in the barrel store all housed in a winery of 45,000 sqm, an amazing feat of architecture.
Designed to fit harmoniously into the landscape, most of the structure is hidden underground and the feel inside the huge spaces is futuristic, almost science-fictional. The precision involved in making wine on this scale is mind-boggling. Each step in the process is monitored down to the tiniest detail and needless to say every inch was spotlessly clean.
Contrary to what some may think, this was far from a factory for making coca cola, this was an operation set up to use as mush diversity in each element in order to create a wine that would be consistently expressive of the Rioja. The mix of hundreds of components (each vineyard vilified separately, 300 different batches of oak for the barrels) is a necessary element when producing wine on such a scale.
My write up as a tourist can be seen on my blog bubbleandchic but what I took away from the visit was a great understanding of how unfair the wine industry is becoming. There’s the growing idea that good bottles of wine can’t be made from large producers and that the mass produced wines have little passion for what they do or hold little interest for the consumer. In my time in this industry I’ve come across many small producers would benefit from seeing just how Campo Viejo’s attention to detail enables them to make consistently good wine. Their staff were extremely warm, welcoming and informative and were nothing less than passionate about what they do and the Campo Viejo brand.
Anyone who thinks that large producers have little to offer, should really take a trip to Bodega Campo Viejo and then think again…