The past history of this legendary winery firmly established not only its own long-standing reputation but that of the Ribera del Duero region and the Tinto Fino (indigenous Tempranillo) grape variety. A succession of enlightened owners and intelligent winemakers has ensured that Vega Sicilia remains a centre of excellence in premier quality wine-making. It began in 1848 with the acquisition of 2,000 ha of farming land by the father of Eloy Lecanda, who founded the business in 1864. After visiting Bordeaux, he planted a number of foreign variety cuttings, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec, alongside Tinto Fino, and by 1876 he was supplying the Royal Family with brandy. Later, Domingo Garramiola, at the wine-making helm from 1904 to 1933, was responsible for incorporating Bordeaux techniques and attending to the wine presses and wooden casks, as the ageing process was seen as crucial then as now. The two magnificent wines, Vega Sicilia and Valbuena, were released in 1915 and began accruing numerous awards and international acclaim. However, the first bottles produced were never sold, but distributed amongst the higher echelons of society and gifted to family friends. The wine had acquired a special status that money could not buy, with vintages still sought after today like objets d'art.
The Vega Sicilia estate runs close to the River Duero, to the east of Valladolid province, and comprises around 250 ha of vineyards, growing 80% Tinto Fino with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. Since 1982 the Álvarez family has consolidated the fortunes of this 1,000 ha estate and incorporated other wineries into the company. Pablo Álvarez became MD after Jesús Anadón had run operations from 1956-85, and experienced Mariano Garcia, who started there in 1968, took charge of oenology. Firm leadership in business and outstanding wine-making then ensued in the 1980s and 1990s, just as the Ribera DO was making its mark. Attention to every minute detail is paramount and prolonged ageing has achieved outstanding results. From 1998 to 2015, Xavier Ausás was in overall charge as winemaker at management level, assuring Vega Sicilia of continued worldwide renown due to the concentration, maturity and elegance of these prestigious Gran Reserva and Reserva wines: Único, Único Reserva Especial and Valbuena. From 2015, the new technical director is Gonzalo Iturriaga de Juan.
The following wineries are included in the Vega Sicilia portfolio: Bodegas y Viñedos Alión (Ribera del Duero); Bodegas y Viñedos Pintia (Toro); Macán, the joint venture between Benjamin Rothschild and the Álvarez family, and Tokaj-Oremus (Hungary). Vega Sicilia is also the distributor and importer in Spain of the also emblematic wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.