Ribera Sacra, Spain
One of the most stunning landscapes in Spain is located in the heart of Galicia, in an area known as the Ribeira Sacra (Sacred Banks). Driving on the N-120 between Villafranca del Bierzo and Ourense you follow the river Sil as it cuts through gorgeous canyons terraced with vineyards.
D. Ventura is a project by Ramón Losada and his family utilizing old family holdings in this ancient wine growing region. Ever since the Romans inhabited the area, people have been growing grapes on the steep terraces lining the two rivers that form the denomination. Working these lands is extremely difficult, as the terraces in some areas are so steep that the grapes have to be brought in on a dumb waiter. All farming is done by hand, and Ramón, with the help of Gerardo Méndez of Do Ferreiro, has changed the farming techniques to incorporate a more natural approach.
Winemaking here has also undergone a transition to a more organic form. Only indigenous yeast is used to start fermentation. None of the wines are filtered or cold stabilized. The maturation of the grapes is watched carefully to ensure that they are fully mature when harvested.
There are currently three vineyard sites. Two border the river Sil and one borders the Miño River. Caneiro and Pena do Lobo are in an area known as Amandi, which has been famous throughout time as one of the best sites for making wines. Caneiro in particular is unique, with steep terraces lining the river, and pure slate soil known as losa. The river adds a sweet freshness to this plot, cooling it during the heat of the day. Pena do Lobo is also on the Sil, but the vineyard is less steep and more removed from the river. The soils are a mix of slate and granite. Viña do Burato is in a totally different area on the Miño River, north of the other two plots. Here the landscape is lush. Streams flow directly through the vineyard on their way to the Miño. The soils are more fertile and alluvial. Each plot’s unique climate creates a distinct wine.