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Bodega Pago de Carraovejas

Bodega Pago de Carraovejas

In spite of its short lifespan so far, Pago de Carraovejas is one of the benchmark wineries in the Ribera del Duero. The project which sought to turn a dream into reality has culminated in red wines...

Year founded1988
Own vineyards:60 / ha
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Wine from Bodega Pago de Carraovejas

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Bodega Pago de Carraovejas

In spite of its short lifespan so far, Pago de Carraovejas is one of the benchmark wineries in the Ribera del Duero. The project which sought to turn a dream into reality has culminated in red wines which feature among the most sought-after in the whole of Spain and figure on the menus of the most renowned restaurants in the entire world.

The winery

José María Ruiz, the first generation 

José María Ruiz, founder of Pago de Carraovejas, represented Spain at the First World Contest for Sommeliers and attained a noteworthy 5th place. That experience awakened his desire to set up his own restaurant, with his own suckling pigs and his own wine, and this happened in 1982 when the Restaurante José María opened its doors in Segovia. There the concept of wine typically found in Castilian inns was completely changed, by getting rid of the traditional jug and serving wine out of a bottle, taking great care over the temperature and how it was served.

Years later, he had high hopes of creating his own wine to accompany the suckling pig, his restaurant’s star dish. At a time when the Ribera del Duero was still a great unknown, he chose the hillsides of Carraovejas, in Peñafiel, for starting up the project, as it was the main historic centre of Ribera del Duero wines and it was close to Segovia. He produced the region’s first wine with 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, when Tinto Fino was the absolute king. Moreover, this was one of the first wineries in the Ribera del Duero to use French oak and to install a drip irrigation system.

The first vintage from Pago de Carraovejas was in 1991, resulting from barely 70,000 kilos of grapes obtained from the first 25 hectares under production. In the following years, the winery and vineyards would continue to grow with a series of enlargements, until reaching the current 200 ha.

Pedro Ruiz, the second generation

In 2007, another stage commenced when Pedro Ruiz became involved with the project. The new leadership brought fresh goals in the areas of sustainability, innovation and wine tourism. While Pedro Ruiz was at the helm, the winery and its management received various prestigious awards from different public and private institutions, such as the University of Valladolid’s Faculty of Commerce and the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

Vineyards

Technology assisting viticulture

The vineyard is located at an average altitude of 850 m, set on a slope perpendicular to the river Duero. The land is gently undulating, flat in the centre of the valley; precipitous and sheer as it rises, reaching a gradient of 35%. The soils have a chalky texture, with red clay and white loam, and particles are small in size which allows good water retention.

The estate enjoys the ambient climate with its combination of effects, the governing influences of the river Duero, the prevailing westerly winds, which favour healthy grapes, and the southern orientation of its slopes, protected from the damaging north wind as well as from the spring and autumn frosts. It also has anti-frost wind machines and irrigation systems which mitigate the impact of adverse weather conditions.

In the Pago de Carraovejas vineyards, three varieties are grown: Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The grapes are the result of the constant arduous work carried out in the months preceding the harvest; the objective is to limit the quantity produced in favour of better quality. Tasks such as green pruning, thinning clusters and removing leaves are accompanied by treatments within the framework of integrated viticulture, correcting nutritional deficiencies and ensuring water provision, as well as by the most contemporary of modern technology applied to precision viticulture.

Varieties of the same kind are grouped together in some estates, original occupants are changed for others more suited to that type of soil, and plots are rearranged to improve access to sunshine, newly structured wiring systems are set up in the vineyard…; all of this with the final goal of improving quality and achieving balance in the crops as a whole.

Looking to the future, they continue to extend their plantations in areas where the geography of the land is suitable, seeking to adapt and improve crop growing in subsequent years, by means of a clonal selection from the best vine plants.

Winemaking

A total of 800,000 bottles

After the harvested grapes arrive in their crates and pass over the selection table, they spend the night in cold storage. After being destemmed, they are moved directly into the fermentation tank by means of an innovative system using an overhead crane and a small tank which fill by gravity.

The fermentation hall is equipped with stainless steel tanks which are especially wide to achieve a more efficient maceration, and with French oak vats holding 150 hl and 200 hl. As a result of a lengthy R&D project, a selection of native yeasts and bacteria from the estate itself has been made, which will take charge of fermentations.

Choosing the 3,000 plus barrels is done through a series of tests and controls, achieving an exceptional selection of extra-fine grain wood. The barrels are laid out on a single level in order to facilitate filling and analysis. The wines spend time in new and semi-new French and American barrels with a maximum lifetime of three years.

After their stay in barrel, the wines are clarified with natural egg white. Bottling is always carried out in spring, and their repose in bottle lasts from 6 to 24 months.

Every year some 800,000 bottles are released onto the national and international markets, depending on the characteristics of each vintage.

The wines

The Pago de Carraovejas collection is limited to three exceptional red wines: Pago de Carraovejas, El Anejón and Cuesta de las Liebres. Pago de Carraovejas is the estate wine, structured with a vibrant backdrop, which subtly conveys its origin and identity. El Anejón originates from the terraces Carraovejas, and it’s a wine with a wonderfully sublime and long palate, resulting from an extraordinary ecosystem. Cuesta de las Liebres only appears in special vintages and combines intensity and structure with delicateness and balance.

The company / The group

The Alma Carraovejas Group has been set up to take on special projects, trying to find the sort of exceptional settings that could fulfil the ambition of recouping and caring for outstanding vine plantations which will remain as a legacy for future generations. 

In 2013, the Ruiz Aragoneses family acquired Ossian Vides y Vinos in its entirety, a remarkable project which had taken on board five centuries of wine-growing tradition in Nieva. In 2018, it took root in the Ribera del Duero’s highest altitude area with Milsetentayseis, a project looking for new horizons in soils extraordinarily rich in minerals. Back in 2019, and after the official founding of Alma Carraovejas, the company arrived in the Ribeiro DO with Viña Meín - Emilio Rojo, two singular wineries combining their notable past to embark upon a commitment for the future in the heart of the Ribeiro. In 2020, and after years of studying the best areas of the Rioja Alavesa, Alma Carraovejas acquired the Aiurri winery, in Leza, in a unique setting at the foot of the Cantabrian Mountains. Then in the middle of 2021, Alma Carraovejas touched down in Gredos, acquiring Bodega Marañones, a company which, although young, had become a regional pioneer in producing wines of international quality.