Bodegas Ostatu is a family winery located in the heart of the Basque Rioja Alavesa region in the village of Samaniego.
Ostatu is located in an 18th-century structure in the foothills of the Sierra de Cantabria range which was a former country inn (or hostel, offering hospitality; the origins of the name Ostatu) which travelers would stop for nourishment and rest on their way across the mountainous Basque Country.
The Sáenz de Samaniego family has been farming in the area since the 16th century – for so many generations, in fact, that their family name and the village’s name are the same. The winery has been growing grapes for over two hundred and fifty years. In 1970, husband and wife, Doroteo and María Asunción Sáenz de Samaniego began bottling the first Ostatu cosechero wines, utilizing the whole-cluster, carbonic maceration style which is historic to the Rioja Alavesa region. Upon realizing the exceptional quality of their vineyards and potential through a friendship with Hubert de Boüard de Laforest of Château Angélus in Saint-Émilion, the winery was modernized in 2002 by four of their six children: Mariasun, Gonzalo, Iñigo, and Ernesto. The philosophy at Ostatu has been one of constant self-improvement through blending tradition, a forward-thinking approach, and perseverance.
“We fight to defend a model of wine-craftsmen, linked to the vineyard and to life in the Basque villages and rural areas. Hospitality is our culture” – Mariasun Sáenz de Samaniego
First and foremost, Ostatu is known throughout the area for its exceptional old vineyards,
which are managed by Gonzalo with his brothers Iñigo and Ernesto, who are among the most respected and knowledgeable farmers in Rioja. They own 36 hectares of vineyards, divided into 50 micro plots, spread across several Rioja Alavesa villages, including Samaniego, Leza, and Laguardia. Tempranillo dominates the blend, but they also grow graciano, mazuelo, garnacha, viura, and malvasia. Ostatu is “Rioja mountain wine,” meaning their vineyards are located between 450-650m in the foothills of the Sierra de Cantabria mountain range, where they are protected from the cold northern wind. Soil composition here is a deep calcareous clay and the average age of the vines is 50 years, with many vineyards being much older. The poor soils and the unique location at the foot of this mountain range together create a special microclimate that is ideal for tempranillo grapes to have a long maturation, developing complex aromas and flavors. Sameniego is located directly in the convergence of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean climatic influences, which meet in the Rioja Alavesa, molding the character of the vintages. This unique soil and climate also lend a certain austerity and structure to Ostatu wines, which differentiates them from the Rioja wines of other subzones. Ostatu is pure Alavesa mountain wine, born of an extreme climate.
Ostatu is part of a winegrowing tradition that has always been very environmentally friendly, a commitment that has only strengthened over time. This began with their commitment as a carbon-neutral winery through their use of green energy sources and participation in reforestation initiatives One of their great works in the last decade has been converting all 36ha of their vineyards to organic farming. Having been certified as an ecological vineyard for some years, in 2021 the entirety of Ostatu’s harvest will be certified organic. This is a monumental achievement for Ostatu, who is leading the Rioja discussion to one of vineyards and farming. Theirs is a comprehensive vision that involves caring for the earth, the environment, their heritage, and vineyards with the utmost respect. This approach involves a polyculture approach in their vineyards, which are integrated into the natural environment, rather than being a separate system. This also includes their involvement and significant contributions to their rural Basque community, in the form of increased economic opportunity which further acts as a catalyst for positive ecological and economic progress in their region. This is their deep commitment to constant self-improvement, which serves to improve the health of their community as a whole. This philosophy is echoed by their involvement in a new movement by some of Spain’s greatest producers, called Futuro Viñador.
They have also created Txoko Ostatu,
a concept derived from the famous Basque gastronomic societies which are restricted to groups of friends who get together to cook, eat, and socialize. This concept is centered around their love of hospitality and sharing their Basque heritage through their incredible culinary tradition. Of course, wine plays an integral role in this history.
As a result of all of these factors and more, Ostatu is beloved by clients for producing some of the most distinctive, highest-quality Rioja wines on the market. From their popular Blanco and Rosado cuvées, which are young wines made from old-vines at higher elevations, to their unbeatable Crianza, single-vineyard Escobal, and monumental Reserva and Gran Reservas (both white and red), Ostatu delivers incredible quality, value, and soul in each harvest. The Sáenz de Samaniego family continues to anchor our Rioja program and lead the conversation in Rioja into the future through their dedication to tradition and creative innovation.