Meet Your Makers: Nexus & Frontaura

camino600Despite being involved in the wine world since 1996, Camino Pardo’s big leap of faith came in 2008 when Nexus & Frontaura began selling its own brand of wines. You see, for years they had simply sold off the grapes and wine they made to other producers, but in the late 2000s, Camino and her husband decided to put their own stamp on things. And for years, the wines were a hit all over the world … except one very important person still hadn’t tasted them: Camino’s father.

Some might call it tough love, others might say it’s cautious apprehension, but here’s what it boiled down to: Despite having all the confidence in the world in his daughter, Camino’s father didn’t want to taste the wine because he couldn’t bear to tell her if he didn’t like it.

Holding back her emotions and some tears, Camino reminisces about when that all changed.

“Every day I receive a lot of compliments and comments from different kinds of people in many different countries about our wine, but the most important for me has been my father’s opinion. In the beginning when I started to produce, he never tasted my wines. Then one day, he called me to taste my wines, and he loved them. He loved them, and it was from his heart. He told me ‘I love your wines,’ three years after I was selling my wines in America. He was afraid to taste my wines and tell me he didn’t like them, but he loved them. It was my best day in wine.”

Of course, from an emotional standpoint, that validation of her father’s approval meant everything to Camino and the Nexus & Frontaura winery. But even prior to his sip of approval, the team’s focus was always clear.

“We were very clear with what we wanted to be: Our interest is in making quality wines from the old world, but modern wines,” Camino says.

He told me ‘I love your wines,’ three years after I was selling my wines in America. He was afraid to taste my wines and tell me he didn’t like them, but he loved them. It was my best day in wine.

Another funny thing about Camino’s wine adventure: Right when she kicked off her own brand in 2008, the global financial crisis hit. There Nexus & Frontaura was, trying to establish itself as a high-quality wine producer, when everyone from New York to Singapore to Madrid was pinching their purses. Compound that on top of the fact that Camino’s sales team in the U.S. initially was, well, just Camino.

“I started absolutely alone,” Camino remembers, having to learn the different legalities, rules, regulations and processes involved in selling wine in the U.S. versus those in Europe.  “It’s very difficult to understand in the beginning … and it took me a long time to understand.”

After lots of solo trial and error, Camino started her own import company, then hired a logistics company to help sort out all of the details and minutiae that comes with importing wine — all so that she could focus on the top-tier stuff.  

“I started selling in New York State and New York City, then it was New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and then I started on the West Coast. My style of wines were very successful in the west coast. Nowadays, I sell a lot of wine in the west coast, in Washington, California, Oregon. We export around 72 percent of our wine, and about 25 to 30 percent of that is to the U.S.

Juggling successful wineries in Ribera del Duero, Rueda and also the neighboring Toro region, Camino’s day-to-day operations have been made less tricky than they used to be with the help of technology. If Camino or members of her team are in their Ribera facility, all they need is a laptop to log into their state-of-the-art software and monitor what’s happening with the fermentation process in Rueda, or what the pH levels of their Toro wine are looking like that day.

“If I am in Rueda, and we have the harvest in Ribera del Duero at the same time, I can see and control everything from the other region as well,” Camino explains.

Think of it as a mission control room for wine, with Camino at the helm.

nexusonekosherIn one of the rarer occurrences you’ll find from Ribera del Duero, Camino’s Nexus winery offers a Kosher version of their tempranillo. Why? Because customers and importers had been asking her if she knew of any good Kosher wines. When she realized that she hadn’t, Camino decided to make one herself.

“I studied the way to do it, if it was possible, and step-by-step the culture of Kosher, and my respect for this community began to go deeper. I started to do it in 2013, and it is a big experience and accomplishment for me and my team.”

So what’s the hardest part of her job: Making wines to please her dad? Creating a Kosher wine on a whim? Nope — it’s the labels.

“The most difficult thing is to do the packaging, because I always look for different things,” Camino admits. “I study the markets, the competition, and I always want to be different, but with elegance and identity. I need a label to be able to last 20 years. I don’t know what other people have in mind, but I always go further. The effort for a wine company to succeed is very hard. Just wine production is not enough. The wine must be good, the ingredients must be very good, and the identity is as important as the actual wine. It’s very difficult to reach the consumers in, say, Seattle, and when you reach them, my bottle must be impossible to forget.”

The wine must be good, the ingredients must be very good, and the identity is as important as the actual wine. It’s very difficult to reach the consumers in, say, Seattle, and when you reach them, my bottle must be impossible to forget.

Great grapes, great wine, great labels, a great team: With all that in tow, there’s still that intangible talent, gut sensibility and instinct necessary to succeed, and at Nexus, Camino has a simple way of looking at her vision.

“I don’t follow trends and I try to produce for consumers. The consumer at the end is who is my critic. The sensuality in red wine is for me the most important thing. The wines must be complex, balanced, but they have to make you feel happy. The wine has a stronger component of socialization. If you’re alone at home, you can drink whiskey or a tequila, but usually you select a good bottle of red wine to share with your girlfriend, with your family, on a special occasion. Red wine is used to join people. I remember many bottles of wines with many occasions in my life. The wine we drank when I got married, for example. It’s all about relating the wine to people.”

So grab your best friend, your sister, or your significant other and share a bottle of Nexus. Go on — make some memories. Camino would love it.

For more information on Nexus & Frontaura, visit their website.

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