Since La Rioja Alta, S.A. bought this property in 1995, Torre de Oña has been the château-style operation of the group in Rioja. Located in Páganos, a hamlet of Laguardia in Rioja Alavesa, the stylish manor house surrounded by vines seems like the perfect spot to craft single-vineyard wines as opposed to their historic operation in Haro, specialized in blends.
Originally conceived as a modern rioja in contrast with La Rioja Alta’s traditional, long-aged reds, Torre de Oña experienced a turning point with the launch at the end of 2017 of Martelo (€21, 80,000 bottles), a refined red that combines Rioja’s fine wines tradition with a terroir-driven approach. It’s also proof that the gap between the so called classic and modern reds is narrowing in the appellation resulting in a wider diversity of styles.
Martelo in particular is the result of a comprehensive soil study started in 2005 when Julio Sáez took over as winemaker of La Rioja Alta group. After creating an experimental winery at Torre de Oña, plots were fermented separately. A total of 8.5Ha comprising the Martelo, Camino de la Iglesia and Las Cuevas plots are currently destined to Martelo. The vines are planted on a slope at 560 to 580m above sea level on shallow soils, perfectly exposed to the sun throughout the whole day. These 60-year-old vines were originally goblet-trained but were later trellised. Aged mainly in American oak, the wine was launched on the 2012 vintage and is expected to be released only in very good years.
The traditional Torre de Oña range includes the Crianza Finca San Martín (€7, 125,000 bottles), a single-varietal Tempranillo aged in American (60%) and French (50%) oak; and Torre de Oña Reserva (around €15, 40,000 bottles) which includes 5% Mazuelo in the blend and is aged in French and Caucasus oak. Total production stands at 200,000 bottles.
Torre de Oña’s brand new facilities were opened in 2016. Improvements include an automated system to tip over harvest boxes that allows grapes to be handled very gently and the use of crane-operated tanks instead of pumping. Grape quality is now closely monitored by an optical sorter.
The tour is highly recommended since single-vineyard operations are very rare in Rioja. Accommodation is provided at the manor although clients and members of the winery’s club have priority access. The winery has a private dining room for groups and hires other spaces like the tasting room and the beautifully restored 17th century Santiago chapel. Standard and premium winery tours are regularly organized.
Apart from La Rioja Alta, S.A., other wineries in the group include Lagar de Cervera in Rías Baixas and Áster in Ribera del Duero.