Uriondo is a small family winery founded in 1987 by Roberto Ibarretxe, located near the port city of Bilbao in the tiny Basque village of Zaratamo. Roberto was a psychology professor in Bilbao and his brother an engineer; both now work at the winery. They planted the first vines in the area in 1982 on their parent’s dairy farm.
Uriondo, named after their neighborhood, is the oldest winery in the region and was one of three original pioneers in the revival of txakolina production near Bilbao, with the creation of the Bizkaiko Txakolina DO in 1994. Prior to that, the txakolina discipline was nearly lost in the area, with many vineyards given over to the construction of seaside homes. Their goal has always been to rejuvenate the tradition of txakolina and honor its contribution to the gastronomic and cultural history of their village with their indigenous grapes. In this respect, Roberto has been a pioneer.
Uriondo, consisting of one tiny single vineyard (2.5 hectares), is situated at an altitude of 175 meters with a southeasterly exposure, in the countryside. This vineyard, heavily influenced by the Atlantic climate, is predominantly clay/sand mixture allowing for good retention of nutrients. Their mission was to do the best viticulture by keeping everything very small and hands-on.
Unlike some of their newer neighbors, they eschew the use of international varietals, believing in the traditional local grapes of their ancestors: hondarribi zuri, mune mahatsa and txori mahatsa. As with the homemade bread made with txakolina yeasts, all of their wines are spontaneously fermented with yeasts native to their vineyard.
The next generation of the winery lies with Roberto’s partner, Isabel Viñas. Isabel started by helping with the harvest, which sparked her interest in winemaking. Also holding a degree in psychology, she followed her new passion and completed her masters in oenology. She now works as the lead winemaker on the project, with the pair doing all of the work manually, from vineyard to bottle. The utmost respect is given to the tradition of the local wine as part of the Basque culinary tradition. Together, they make less than a thousand cases of their hand-crafted namesake wine: Uriondo.