D. Ventura

(deh ven-too-rah) | Ribeira Sacra – Galicia

  • Single-vineyard viticultor Ribeira Sacra
  • 90-year-old mencía and merenzao vines

  • Winemaking with no makeup

  • Refreshing, electric, food-friendly wines

Press

One of the most stunning landscapes in Spain is located in the heart of Galicia,

in an area known as the Ribeira Sacra, or Sacred Banks, as the region houses the largest concentration of Romanesque churches and monasteries in Europe due to the expansion by religious orders in the Middle Ages. Access to the region is through driving on the N-120 which snakes between Villafranca del Bierzo and Ourense, following the river Sil as it cuts through gorgeous canyons terraced with unforgettable, steeply-terraced vineyards.

D. Ventura is the soft-spoken Ramón Losada and his family, who farm 6ha of old vines to make small amounts of single-vineyard wine in one of the most remote wine regions in the world, Ribeira Sacra. Ramón is the picture of a humble farmer, with his full-time job as the village veterinarian consuming whatever time is left after tending to his vines. He even finds a little time to raise a rare heritage breed of Galician pig, from which he makes incredible sausages to keep the breed going. In 1999, he and his sister Belen refurbished the cellar in the ancient family farmhouse in Pantón and began bottling and selling their wines, which until then were for self-consumption.

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Ever since the Romans inhabited the area,

people have been growing grapes on the steep terraces lining the two rivers, the Sil and the Miño, which form the heart of the denomination. Working these vineyards is extremely difficult labor, as the terraces in some areas are so steep that the grapes have to be brought up to the top of the road on a motorized lift. All farming is done by hand in a very ancestral manner. Whole bunches of grapes are hand-harvested, the selection is done in the vineyard. From there the grapes go directly into a de-stemmer where they are crushed and go straight into the fermentation vat undergoing a spontaneous, wild-yeast fermentation in stainless steel. There is no oak at the winery and the wines are aged in stainless steel from 6-9 months before being bottled to make way for the new harvest. This is uncomplicated winemaking with absolutely no makeup and a focus on capturing the purity of each vineyard and vintage.

There are currently three vineyard sites that are all bottled separately. Two border the Sil river and one borders the Miño. Caneiro and Pena do Lobo, planted to the indigenous red mencía grape, are located in the Amandi sub-zone, which has been famous throughout time as one of the best sites for making wines. Viña Caneiro is a steep, 90-year-old, 1ha vineyard planted on schist soils known locally as losa. With stone walls and vines that plunge towards the Sil river in one of the most picturesque and famous spots in Ribeira Sacra. The river adds a sweet freshness to this plot, cooling it during the heat of the day, producing opulent Grand Cru-level wines reminiscent of Côte Rotie in France.

Pena do Lobo is also on the Sil river, but the vineyard is less steep and at a higher altitude, farther from the river. Here 90-year-old mencía vines are planted on granite soils and express great energy and depth of flavor, the dark-fruit core perfectly framed by nervous acidity.

Viña do Burato is in a totally different area on the Miño river, north of the other two plots. Here the landscape is lush with a significantly cooler climate and higher average rainfall. Streams flow directly through the vineyard on their way to the Miño. The soils are mixed granitic and alluvial. Each plot’s unique climate creates a distinct wine. The vineyard is planted to mencía and merenzao (trousseau) which yield crisp, refreshing red wines with mouthwatering acidity similar to the wines of Beaujolais or Alpine France.

Ramón continues to craft his honest, straightforward single-vineyard wines based on the traditions of his rural Galicia, bringing his contagious positivity to all that he does. We are all the better for it.

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