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Bodegas Montecillo Gears Up for the 2022 Harvest

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Chief Winemaker Mercedes García Rupérez reports on this year’s harvest experience and what the winery anticipates from the vintage. 

New York, NY, September 21, 2022 – Bodegas Montecillo, one of the pioneering wineries in the D.O.C. Rioja, has just started the harvest season. Chief Winemaker Mercedes García Rupérez shares behind-the-scenes insights. 

Founded in 1870, Bodegas Montecillo is the first and oldest winery in the town of Fuenmayor and has kept the winemaking traditions, maintaining a classic style that truly expresses the region’s identity and perpetuates the vision of the founder, Celestino Navajas. With vineyards located in the 3 subregions Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental, the winery has its work cut out for them this harvest season. 

Right now the team is dedicating most of their time to cleaning, preparing machinery, checking cooling systems, fermenting tanks, press pumps, etc.,” says Mercedes. “It is the time of year

that we anticipate the most and count down the days to begin. However, it is also a time of the year that requires a huge effort and sacrifice from the whole team.” 

Harvest at Bodegas Montecillo started on September 5th with the red grape vineyards in areas of Rioja Oriental (Tempranillo and Garnacha) and later continued with the Sauvignon Blanc grapes, a foreign variety permitted by the appellation in 2007 and utilized for blending in the Montecillo barrel fermented white wine, that come from a plot located 0.5 mile away also in the Rioja Oriental subzone. The following week they anticipate working with grapes from Rioja Alta, according to the maturations of each vineyard. 

The last to be harvested is the Graciano, which is the variety with the longest cycle that the winery has and the one that they decide to leave in the vine until obtaining a ripe tannin. Harvest time is quite long since they collect grapes from almost the entire geography of the DOC Rioja, therefore from the beginning at the Rioja Oriental area until the highest plots in Cuzcurrita or Sajazarra are really ripe, normally more than 30 days pass. However, due to higher temperatures and lower rainfall the region has seen this year, this has been shortened causing the grape’s growth cycle to take place in the late summer. 

The vineyards selected for Gran Reserva have an earlier maturation due to the lower load of grapes they have as they are older vineyards, normally the Reserva ones follow and overlap with the Crianza vineyards. All this has exceptions in higher and cooler plots where its maturation is somewhat later. 

Each vineyard is categorized by age and winemaking potential,” explains Mercedes. “Daily maturation controls are carried out and based on the results they undergo a segmented harvest.” 

In general, due to the high temperatures throughout this summer, there will be two harvests in Rioja. One results from vineyards that have had enough water to complete the ripening phase, offering grapes with a good balance between sugar-acidity-polyphenols. The other harvest phase focuses on the vineyards that have suffered more from water scarcity and have not yet reached the technical and/or phenolic maturity. At Bodegas Montecillo, the health of their vineyards is exceptional and they believe that there is a very good water reserve, so it will be an early harvest with slightly higher alcohol degrees on average. 

We believe that this year’s vintage will produce wines with a high alcohol content in a large part of Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja. However, in cooler areas the alcohol content will remain as the average,” notes Mercedes. “But, it has been a year in which climate change has clearly been noticed, and I think it is here to stay. This just means we will have to be able to work with what we have and continue to produce high-quality wines.

About Bodegas Montecillo 

Bodegas Montecillo was born in Fuenmayor, one of the towns with the longest history and tradition in the Rioja Alta. Bodegas Montecillo crafts quality wines with a unique personality, through their state-of-the-art location and the selection of the best raw materials to deliver age-worthy wines. Today, it symbolizes the philosophy of the winery: a vocation and a character, stemming from the origin and foundation of what is found in the vines. Bodegas Montecillo manages to be coherent and offer consistent quality year after year, thanks to the rigorous selection of grapes, deep experience of aging in barrels and bottles resulting in wines that stand out for their elegance, complexity and balance. 

For more information about Bodegas Montecillo visit the website.

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