Although Beatriz Herranz Sanz tends the vines and makes the wines, the history of Barco del Corneta draws on the vineyards that her grandfather owned in the village of La Seca in Valladolid. There, in an area known as Cantarranas at 700 metres of altitude, lie the family’s five and a half hectares of vineyards; they are right next to a pine grove which gives its name to Beatriz’s project and which used to be her family’s meeting point during the harvest fiestas. Dry-farmed and organically grown, her Verdejo vines are planted on sandy, pebbly soils with limestone in their deepest layers.
Beatriz’s mother explains that vineyards have been planted in the area since the 11th century. María Antonia Sanz started to help her daughter when she retired as a high school teacher. At first she lent a hand in the vineyard, which was replanted in 2008, and during the pruning season, which she did manually on her own. She still prunes the vines, but María Antonia and her daughter are now aided by a small team of workers who “barely need three days to do what I did in three months”, se explains.
Beatriz completed studies in Agriculture and Winemaking but where she really learnt was in Gredos. There she got involved in a project to recover old Garnacha vineyards in Cebreros producing a wine called La Fábula.
After this experience, Beatriz returned to La Seca to produce her first wine in the region in 2010 —Barco del Corneta (15,000 bottles, €16) is a clean Verdejo, with varietal aromas and personality, unlike many of the technological wines which are standard in the Rueda region. To make it, Beatriz harvests by hand in boxes, presses the grapes without destemming, uses native yeasts and leaves the wine in used barrels with the lees in suspension for around eight to nine months.
Cucú (50,000 bottles, €9) is her entry-level wine. Grapes are sourced from an organic winegrower in Segovia, an area to the south-east of Rueda that she favors for its freshness. Half of the wine is fermented and aged for eight months in French oak barrels whereas the other 50% stays in stainless steel deposits.
La Sillería (1,600 bottles, €25) is her third single varietal Verdejo sourced from 0.8Ha of 100-year-old vines found in Alcazarén, a sandy area on the edges of the DO Rueda at 750 meters of altitude. La Sillería (formerly called Casio), which is fermented in 500-litre barrels for a year, shows a ripe, complex profile and is part of a trilogy of wines called Los Parajes del Infierno. It was later joined by Las Envidias (formerly called Bruto, 1,000 bottles, €21), an old vine Palomino fermented under a veil of yeast for 24 months, and by Judas (700 bottles, €21), made from Viura grapes planted on a 0.45Ha plot in Villanueva de Duero which has been organically grown since 1987.
This trio of wines forms part of Beatriz’s recuperation project in the area —she works with local winegrowers and grapes varieties which might not be native to the region but have been planted in the area for a long time and have sometimes been abandoned.
In 2014 she got involved in another project in Arribes del Duero, on the border with Portugal, where she makes Prapetisco (2,000 bottles, €14) sourced from 80-year-old Juan García vines which sink their roots in granite and quartz soils at 670 metres of altitude. This red is fermented in 1,000-litre deposits with whole clusters and with barely no extraction. After pressing it she transfers the wine to barrels of different sizes —225, 400 and 600 litres— for a year.
Beatriz’s winery was a small garage-like warehouse in Medina del Campo but in 2017 she joined forces with Félix Crespo and moved to a traditional winery in La Seca. Despite the upward move in terms of her facilities, Barco del Corneta’s wines are still artisanal and very personal hence her preference to work outside of the DO Rueda. Instead, all her wines carry the Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León designation.