Through innovative sister brands, classic houses of Ribera del Duero’s vintners offer fresh tastes.
The Ribera del Duero valley, long known for producing superior quality red wines, mainly derived from the Tempranillo grape, is experiencing a true evolution. The area’s beloved vintners are branching out, moving beyond tradition to experiment and innovate with sister brands and new wineries. These projects maintain the same level of quality but feature different terroirs, capture different markets, and often serve as labors of love, channeling the inspiration of their famous winemakers. The new additions also provide visitors with a fresh way to experience, taste, and journey through this celebrated wine region.
In 1972, before the wineries of Ribera del Duero established their Denomination of Origin (D.O.), Alejandro Fernández and his wife Esperanza founded Pesquera, a first-in-class vineyard with a 16th-century lagar, or ancient wine press. Through the use of innovative techniques, such as expanding the area’s first wire-trained vineyard, Pesquera flourished. Today, the winery produces iconic estate wines from over 500 acres of vineyard spread over a variety of terroirs. In the mid-80s, Grupo Tinto Pesquera, currently Familia Fernández Rivera, launched Condado de Haza, a vineyard overlooking the River Duero. Here, they have experimented with novel techniques including malolactic fermentation, and long-aging new wines in oak for over 30 months. The winery also utilizes Tinta del País, Ribera’s local thick-skinned mutation of Tempranillo. Today, Condado de Haza is a favorite of global wine lovers for its superior vintages, and one of a handful of vineyards to practice traditional whole-cluster fermentation.
The legendary winery Bodegas Emilio Moro, is a third-generation family estate founded in 1932 by Don Emilio Moro. In 2007, José Moro and his siblings launched an ambitious project, Cepa 21, focusing on modern expressions and crafting bolder reds, often from a local clone of Tempranillo, Tinto Fino. Since the launch of Cepa 21, José Moro has been cited by Forbes for launching the Sensing4Farming project, which utilizes technology to help develop sustainable, digital-managed vineyards. He has also achieved an ambitious range that includes a rosé made from 100% Tinto Fino, a flagship red, and several “youthful” varietal wines. Much of the wine, harvested and fermented in the villages of Castrillo de Duero, Pesquera de Duero, and Nava de Duero, is made from grapes grown in rocky, chalky, clay soil, which give Cepa 21 ripe, dark fruit and nutty notes. Emilio Moro has also brought new tourism to the region with its gourmet restaurant, curated by chef Alberto Soto, year-round tastings, and tailored harvest activities, including guided visits to a nearby wine museum and the grand Peñafiel castle. The winery’s high-elevation vineyards are a wine geeks’ delight, demonstrating a study in diversity of soil types, some within just a few feet of each other.
Celebrated for merging traditional and modern winemaking techniques, Bodega Vega Sicilia has long maintained a superior standard of excellence in the Ribera del Duero. With Alion, launched in 1991, the house began experimenting with its legendary grapes and varietals, using state-of-the-art equipment and offering a Tinto Fino, inspired by a “modern classic” style. Under owner Pablo Alvarez and Gonzalo Iturriaga, head winemaker of Vega Sicilia, Alion’s Tempranillo wine, aged for 14 months in new French oak barrels, offers a modern take on a local treasure.
In 1995, Danish oenologist Peter Sisseck launched the acclaimed Dominio de Pingus winery, quickly gaining fans around the world for Pingus, the estate’s flagship varietal wine. Prioritizing organic methods and heritage Tempranillo vines, Sisseck made it his mission to preserve the flavors of old Ribero del Duero with the Dominio de Pingus and Flor de Pingus labels. Producing the much-beloved wine PSI through another project, Sissek worked to identify the area’s top vineyards and growers, helping them develop healthier vines, better fruit, and biodynamic farming.
The Matarromera Group has long been considered one of the most prestigious vineyard owners in the province of Castilla y Léon (where Ribera del Duero is located). The Bodega Emina Ribera winery opened in 2005 in the Valladolid region of Valbuena del Duero, within the Golden Mile of the Ribera appellation and is the current headquarters of Bodegas Familiares Matarromera. At Emina, visitors can walk the Variety Garden, visit the Emina Wine Museum and taste the Emina Rosado, Emina Pasión and Emina Crianza varieties. Bodega Rento, from legendary winemaker Carlos Moro, and the newest from Matarromera, produces artisanal and organically made wines from Tempranillo that is harvested by hand, and grown in the oldest vineyards owned by Matarromera. It is considered to be Carlos Moro’s most personal project yet.
Though Cillar de Silos winery was officially founded in 1994 by Amalio Aragón, its conception began in 1970 when Amalio’s father began buying small plots from neighboring vine growers, dreaming of one day creating a wine in homage to his village, Quintana del Pidio. Cillar de Silos, named for the monks who historically managed the nearby Silos Monastery, has since become an internationally prized label. Brothers Roberto and Óscar Aragón have now launched Dominio del Pidio, which has been recognized for its excellent single-vineyard reds and its return to traditional winemaking techniques. The winery offers a recently restored museum where visitors can check out an 18thcentury wine press and ancient underground cellars.
When vintner José María Ruiz first opened Pago de Carraovejas in 1987 on the hillsides overlooking Peñafiel, the historic hub of the Ribera del Duero winemaking region, he sought to honor his native Segovia with a flagship wine label and heritage restaurant. Pedro Ruiz Aragonés, José María’s son, has been at the helm of the winery since 2007. Under his leadership, Carraovejas thrived and became the first vineyard in Ribera del Duero to craft a wine containing 25 % Cabernet Sauvignon. Carraovejas has also pioneered the use of French oak barrels and drip irrigation–significantly improving the quality of the grapes for Crianzas and Reservas. With Milsetentayseis, the family’s newest offering, the emphasis is on century-old vineyards with a scientific spin. The label champions ancestral vineyards and indigenous varieties, paying tribute to the area’s defining characteristic: its altitude as one of the highest points in the DO Ribera del Duero at 1,076 meters. To preserve the genetic makeup of the plot’s heritage vines, Ruiz has created a comprehensive “recovery project” aimed at producing high-quality grapes able to thrive in extreme weather conditions, drawing on the soil and location to capture the unique character of the vine.
Bodegas Antídoto has long been the heart and hidden gem of Soria, perched on the sandy, rocky hills south of the Duero. Launched by Frenchman Bertrand Sourdais along with David Hernández, Antidoto’s wines are harvested from pure Tinto Fino, representing heritage Tempranillo with a fresh style that prizes purity of fruit and taste. According to Sourdais, the area’s Tempranillo has a unique genetic makeup owed to the high elevations and extreme climates of Soria, producing varietals with pronounced acidity. Dominio de Es, set in the traditional wine-producing village of Atauta, is Sourdais’ newest and most personal project. Led by he and his wife Olga Escudero, the winery emphasizes craft, innovation, and slow cultivation–occupying just 25 plots and 3.5 hectares and specializing in small yields blending Albillo with Tempranillo. Dominio de Es’ unique varietals are enhanced by the landscape’s clayey, porous terrain, combined with the calcareous and sandy influences of the nearby Duero–creating a unique blend ideal for any season or dinner table.
Inspired by the diversity in soils and climates, and the various expressions of Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero winemakers are able to express their creativity and employ other techniques, while exploring vineyards and conditions that make each area of the appellation unique. These projects of passion let the winemakers of Ribera del Duero speak to the world through every glass.