Recently, we had the good fortune to meet these young wine-growers thanks to, none other, Raul Pérez.
Liliana Fernández Pérez and Jose Manuel Beneitez López seemed to be on a very different path before finally settling upon the tiny village of Formariz, east of Zamora, located in the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, not far from where that great river becomes the national border between Spain and Portugal. Between them, they lived and worked in what seems like a dozen different countries across several continents; she on a more business-oriented and he on a more technical level, but both were on the environmental management path, leaning towards wine-growing. In 2015 they decided to merge everything and purchase a farmhouse and vineyards in this small village where they joined forces with Luis Fernando Cabrero Benéitez, a young lad recently returned to the village following his studies. He claims to be one of the four babies born in the village over the last 30 years.
Their goal was to recreate a completely independent agrarian way of life where through hard work and minimal intervention they could live as truly artisanal wine-growers, providing their young families a wholesome, enriching and successful way of life. They farm 8 hectares(20 acres) of very old vines (80-120 years old) and their small winery is in a restored farmhouse. They and their “familial” team control every aspect of every process from vine to bottle to sales.
They describe their approach as follows: Minimal intervention not technical, not biological; respect for varietals and tradition; constant innovation but with personality; minimal analyses and much intuition.
This young team chose to set up shop in Arribes del Duero specifically because the technological wine industry had chosen to ignore it completely. Although there clearly were fine vineyards showing true terroir, people had been leaving the region for years and the large wine companies seemed to not know that the area existed. What better place to set up an agrarian paradise?! Old vines were abundant, in good health and not too expensive. These young entrepreneurs bet on their own intuition and hard work and they are in the process are helping to put Arribes on the map. Only 272 hectares make up this minuscule DO, much smaller than many of the large national wineries. There is a wealth of indigenous varietals like Juan García, Bruñal, Bastardo, Tinto Geromo, Doña Blanc and Puesta en Cruz, which are mostly planted above 600 meters altitude. Their ambitious goal is to save these little known local varietals from extinction, and the best way to do that is to turn them into fine wine!
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