Located near Gernika in the Basque Country this is one of the very few château-style in the DO Bizkaiko Txakolina. With around 25Ha of vines surrounding the estate, wine tourism is an important part of the business so meetings and celebrations (weddings included) are regularly held here. Berroja offers wonderful views of Urdaibai, a natural enclave in the Gernika estuary which was declared Biosphere Reserve in 1984.
Owner José Ángel Carrero is a local forest engineer who works for Bilbao city council. He bought a Basque farmhouse in 1982 as a weekend getaway and started planting vines in the 1990s. The initial idea was to be part of a cooperative to boost txakoli as a quality white wine but he finally set up on his own.
Carrero is happy with his estate where he moved with his family a few years ago. Located on top of a hill, vines are planted on limestone and sandstone slopes benefiting from full sun exposure and protecting them against fog.
Despite the difficulties he met to find good Hondarrabi Zuri cuttings in the mid-1990s, this is the dominant variety in the estate. Others are Riesling (3Ha), Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratia (Petit Courbu, 2Ha) and 1,500 plants of Folle Blanche. Carrero has also planted some red Hondarrabi Beltza even if he considers that this late-ripening grape rarely matures fully here. In his opinion, Petit Courbu also ripens late thus it is less interesting in the Berroja vineyards. Riesling is destined to Berroja, the house’s premium white, a txakoli intended to age and Carrero generously opens in vertical tastings.
2000 was their first vintage, but only 900 bottles of Aguirrebeko, their flagship txakoli, (€8.5 in Spain) were made. Winemaking facilities capable of producing 180,000 bottles were built in 2001, but average production stands at around 110,000 bottles. Grapes from the property’s nine plots are fermented separately with five more parcels expected to come into production soon to increase availability.
Hondarrabi Zuri is the main variety in Aguirrebeko, but Berroja (€11, 8,000 bottles) includes 20% of Riesling in the blend. A txakoli with capacity for further ageing, it comes from the very best wines of each vintage and is aged with its lees in stainless steel tanks for eight months. According to Carrero, Riesling works well with Hondarrabi Zuri because the German variety doesn’t mask the aromas of the local variety.
Berroja currently exports around 10% of its wines —the US is their main market thanks to the work of Olé Imports. Wine tours and tastings can be combined with other tourist experiences in the area like boat tours, dining or visits to picturesque coastal villages.