A Drink From The Porron

A Drink From The Porron

An Interview with Amaia Rodríguez of Remelluri

Through culture and dedication, and with an honest objective for the quality of the wine, excellence will occur.

- Amaia Rodríguez, Remelluri

Coming off a monumental experience in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in April, where our team put on Running of the Scales, we are left inspired with tremendous respect for the raw talent and passion of the industry professionals who attended, as well as our producers from throughout Spain & France.

After the dust cleared, Running of the Scales was the largest gathering of food and beverage professionals from the U.S. in Sherry Country, in modern memory. With the attendance of nearly all of our vignerons from Spain and France, we were able to accomplish something rare in the wine business: a summit of sorts. With creators, entrepreneurs, chefs, mixologists, farmers, Master Sommeliers, independent retailers, and the random opera singer or two in the mix (true story), we had an incredibly talented and diverse group. Those in attendance agreed that what made this event special was the quality of the people involved. It was the combined experience of all of the attendees amplified by the passion we all collectively share for telling the human stories behind the family wineries, cider houses, and distilleries which brought us together at the table.

We created Running of the Scales with the intent of offering an inclusive environment for industry professionals to connect, share stories, and celebrate a common passion for the culture and produce of Andalucia. We aspire to break the mold of the cliched "wine event," offering instead an alternative concept centered around people. What we received in return was so much more, and that continues to inspire and guide our approach and explorations as importers.

This month’s newsletter is the first in a series of interviews with members of the wineries and families who play key roles in the production of some of our favorite beverages. This is an ongoing dialogue we will be offering on a regular basis. Often in our industry, concepts are over-simplified for mass consumption, and thus the spotlight often rests on the winemaker or enologist of each winery. Although this position is certainly worthy of the attention placed on the title, the story is rarely as simple or dramatic as "one lone vigneron against the world" and "the wine makes itself" narratives some would have you believe. The ideas that are more compelling for us are the real stories behind the roles and jobs within each winery, distillery, and cidery. In this newsletter, we hear from Amaia Rodríguez of Remelluri in Rioja.

A Drink From The Porron

Amaia Rodríguez, Remelluri

Q: Please tell us about your role at Remelluri.

I am CEO of Remelluri, sharing with my brother Telmo the most significant and strategic decisions of controlling and monitoring the production of the winery.

I was practically born in the cellar, and surely this is a determining factor in my way of living. This concept is something that is learned and at the same time, is much more important than wine. It is not purely a business, but rather a way of life.

In the beginning, my family purchased an abandoned farm, and in just ten years converted it into a winery which became a national benchmark. It was an intense family adventure that marked the link to the property and shaped our personality somehow. Through this historic and unique property, we rediscovered the world. Although I started working and collaborating in the cellar at a young age, my other great passion is history and art, which lead me to develop other projects for many years. Ten years ago, I returned to Remelluri with my brother to continue the restoration of the family property, projecting a deeper and more accurate vision of viticulture and enology.

We see Remelluri as an endless project, how we view the modern concept of ownership is almost incomprehensible here, but that makes it at once so exhilarating. In the short term, we are doing much more precise and defined work with different aspects of the property. We are uncovering the identity of each of the 150 small individual vineyards. We are also recuperating the cellar, restoring the property, always with a commitment to tradition.

Q: What are the changes you have seen in your region in the last ten years?

Rioja has not changed much in the last ten years. There is a small movement of people and individuals who will be able to generate a new Rioja with a long-term vision. To give value, Rioja should be more honest, diversifying what it does and what it says it does. We believe in adding value through the uniqueness of the vineyards. To communicate this idea is our goal.

A body such as Rioja, cannot be changed by following the rules. We need to do things so that the regulatory agencies understand that ours is the right path. Rioja has begun to look forward, embracing the new reality with the marketing of unique single vineyards, but this approach is only the very beginning. The small producers who work the land will be those who make the real changes, from the outside. That is our vision.

Q: What makes a wine excellent, and what are the most important factors?

An exceptional wine is made from excellent vineyards, through excellent work — all part of a vision and aspiration of excellence within the producer. Through culture and dedication, and with an honest objective for the quality of the wine, excellence will occur. Put all of your resources in the service of this idea.