“¡Teruel Existe!” (Teruel Exists!) is the slogan of a citizens’ movement that began in the remote Spanish town of Teruel…
located in the south of the province of Aragón—the second-least populated province in Spain. Teruel is emblematic of a socio-economic phenomenon called España vaciada (literally, the “emptied” or “abandoned” Spain). The landscape of this Spanish region could be compared to our own “Big Sky Country” in the central U.S, with the Spanish version having been planted with some of the most remote vineyards in Europe. Understanding the rugged and remote natural beauty of the Aragón region, dominated by the mountains of the Sistema Ibérico, is central to understanding the energy and context of the wines from one of the local hometown heroes, Juan Vicente “Juanvi” Alcañiz, and his Viñedos de Montaña, mountain wines.
Currently, in Spain, 70% of the population lives in 30% of the country, resulting from a relatively recent historical process that has depopulated a large part of inland Spain. Where once there were prospering cities, towns, and villages rich in history, heritage, and people in remote areas of Spain, there are now abandoned towns surrounded by ancient vineyards. Since its formation in 1999, the “¡Teruel Existe!” movement has been calling on government authorities in Madrid for increased investment in infrastructure and access to public services to encourage entrepreneurs to settle and invest in historic small and medium-sized towns.
Juanvi Viticultor is one of those ambitious startup “garage wineries” intent on revitalizing his region, bringing vital employment and opportunity back to his quiet village through recovering mountain vineyards surrounding the town of Rubielos de Mora in the province of Teruel. Juanvi is a small-scale, artisan winery established in 2008 in the town of Rubielos de Mora in the Sierra de Gúdar-Javalambre mountains at 1000m, surrounded by beautiful peaks and scenic vistas in every direction. The region has a strong continental climate, with a wide daily variation of temperatures from very cold at night and very hot during the day. It is a region that was once thought to be too high in elevation to make wine, but with the weather change brought on by global warming, the area has become very interesting for quality wine.
The Juanvi team is led by Rubielos de Mora native and visionary winemaker Juan Vicente “Juanvi” Alcañiz, aided by his vineyard manager Melchor Ramos, who is a master of the region and its native grapes. The winery was first started by Juanvi’s father, Vicente, in partnership with local family friend and restaurateur Jesús Romero, who planted the first vines in the village of Rubielos de Mora in 2008 and for whom the winery was previously named. As both men retired, Juanvi decided to take on the winery full-time and bring it to the next level.
The Alcañiz family comes from Olba, a small village 5 km from Rubielos. Juanvi was born and completed his viticultural studies in Valencia. After getting his start working in wine there, he set out on a career making wine in Ribera del Duero, Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand. He moved back to Spain in 2011 to work as head winemaker in the San Alejandro winery in Calatayud, Aragón, responsible for the brands of Las Rocas and Evodia. Juanvi seeks to use his experience on his small-scale, grass-roots project designed to uncover the full potential of the mountain vineyards of the Teruel province, his ancestral homeland.