Pedro "Pepo" Salguero
Owner: Dionisio Ruiz Ijalba
Winemaker: Pedro Salguero
Vineyard management: Certified organic
Soils: Alluvial and stony clay
Grapes grown: Tempranillo, Graciano, Maturana Tinta, Garnacha, Viura, Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco
Annual production: 490,000 bottles
- Viña Ijalba is a pioneer in working with the lesser-known native varieties of Rioja (Graciano, Maturana Tinta and Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco).
- The first plantings of Viña Ijalba were reclaimed gravel pits and open-cast mines, transformed into vineyards.
The DOCa Rioja is one of the most storied wine regions in Spain: it was the first established Designation of Origin (DO) in 1925, and the first to earn Calificada (DOCa) status in 1991. The confluence of Atlantic and Mediterranean climates, varying altitudes, and multiplicity of soil types allows for many different microclimates and a vast range of wine styles. While Tempranillo dominates today, the region was historically a hotbed of different grape varieties, including both autochthonous grapes and those brought from elsewhere. Viña Ijalba is a leader in discovering and protecting some of these nearly forgotten local grapes. They have an experimental vineyard planted with over 100 different varieties, seventy of which are native to Rioja. They’re one of the only producers making single varietal wines from grapes such as Graciano, Maturana Tinta, Maturana Blanca, and Tempranillo Blanco.
Dionisia Ruiz planted the first vines of what would become Viña Ijalba in 1975 on what had been an old gravel pit. For many years, the family focused on farming first and foremost. They began working in a sustainable way in the 1990s, and in 1998 Viña Ijalba became the first ecological winery in Rioja. They are now certified organic. In 2001, Dionisio realized his dream of making his own wines. Grapes are mainly picked by hand, and processed with a minimal use of pumps. They’re inspired by the diversity in winemaking in the region, from traditional to innovative, conventional to experimental. Less-common native grapes are often blended with the standard Tempranillo and Viura, and fermentation and aging take place in stainless steel tanks, concrete vats, and both French and American oak barrels.