Pablo Álvarez, CEO of Tempos Vega Sicilia, confesses that Galicia has the most expensive vineyard in Spain. He knows the terrain, despite the fact that in recent times he has only dropped in on Pontevedra once, so as not to raise suspicions of his intentions: to fulfill his dream of making a great spanish white wine with Albariño grape. For four years he has been trying to buy a vineyard. So far, it has acquired 24 hectares in the Condado de Tea, in the upper part of the Miño River, in Salnés, around Sanxenxo, Cambados and O Grove, and in Crecente, where the winery will be located, which will bear the name of Deiva and in which a total of 20 million euros will be invested. “It is the most expensive, and not even paying can you find the vineyard you want,” Álvarez explained, during the presentation of the new wine project. The intention is to have, as he explained, about 55 or 60 hectares to meet the goal of reaching a production of 300,000 bottles. “At the moment, we are halfway through.”

The price that Vega Sicilia has paid, according to sources from the winery group, is 200,000 euros per hectare. Therefore, to date 4.8 million euros have been paid. The purchase of 50% of the land is still pending, from which the grapes will come to make two wines: Deiva, aged for two years, and Arnela, which will be the premium white aged for three years. The first harvest is scheduled for 2023 and will be on the market in 2025.

The difficulty to buying a vineyard is not something new for Vega Sicily. It already happened more than two decades ago, when Baron Benjamin Rothschild, owner, among other wineries, of Château Lafite Rothschild, and Pablo Álvarez decided to enter together one of the most recognized areas of Spain, such as Rioja. It was in 2003 when they began an ambitious wine project in Samaniego (Álava), in which 34 million euros were invested between land and brick, which was not without obstacles.

It was not easy to enter this appellation of origin. In fact, the first wines were made in a rented cellar, and the purchase of vineyards, in which 13 years were invested, was made on behalf of third parties in more than 70 operations to maintain discretion at all times, but above all to contain the price per hectare of vineyard. In this area, the price of that portion of land paid by the Álvarez family amounted to 90,000 euros. They currently have 100 hectares of vineyards, all of them over 30 years old, since they looked for low-production clones.

Pablo Álvarez, CEO of Tempos Vega Sicilia.

They also intend to acquire, according to company sources, 25 hectares, at 70,000 euros for 10,000 square meters, that are not yet owned by the group, from the Alion winery (Ribera del Duero), where the best-selling wine is made: 310,000 bottles per vintage. Since its launch in 1991, some 5.5 million units have been shipped, of which 1.5 million have been in the last five years. The most generous harvest was that of 2004, in which 330,000 bottles were reached.

In addition to Vega Sicilia, in Ribera del Duero, the parent company that David Álvarez, founder of the Eulen group, bought 40 years ago, the group has two more wineries: Pintia, in Toro (Zamora), which it opened in 2001, despite that the purchase of the land began in 1997, and where the hectare costs 24,000 euros; and Oremus, in Tokaj (Hungary), acquired in 1993 and inaugurated in 1999, which has 120 hectares of vineyards. This is the winery, which produces the most expensive wine in the group -Eszencia, 350 euros (0.375L)-, and “the one that has cost us the most to move forward”, acknowledged Álvarez, who anticipated that the family’s desire is to continue growing with the opening of new wineries, “which do not have to be in Spain”. In this sense, he ruled out an area: Burgundy, where he assured that the hectare costs between 10 and 15 million euros.

At the moment, the group has 650 hectares of vineyards, managed by Enrique Macías, sells wine in more than 150 countries, an international expansion led by the general manager, Antonio Menéndez, who joined the company, where 300 employees work. , in 2015. Ahead of them, in addition to making a great Spanish white wine, they have a challenge: ensure that 300,000 bottles per vintage come out of all the group’s wineries, depending on quality.

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