Part of the González Byass group since the early 1980s, Beronia was founded in 1973 by a group of friends from San Sebastián, all of them members of one of the singular gastronomic clubs rooted in the Basque culture. They used to spend the summer in Ollauri (Rioja Alta) where they very much enjoyed the local wines. Given their considerable wine consumption (those were the days!), they eventually asked their friends and family to lend them funds to launch their own winery which was named after the “berones”, the ancient settlers in the area in the 3rd century BC. Some 10% of Beronia’s current shares still belong to these founders and their descendants.
The winery in the outskirts of Ollauri dates back to 1977, but new facilites in the heart of the vineyard meant to house Beronia’s high-end wines is planned to be operational for the 2019 harvest.
A Reserva and a Gran Reserva were Beronia’s first releases. The Crianza, which currently accounts for 70% of the total production, was launched in the 1998 vintage. With over 35 harvests at Beronia, Ollauri-born winemaker Matías Calleja has guaranteed the continuity of the house style.
The company owns 25Ha of vines surrounding the winery and controls 870Ha more from local purveyors -some of them have been selling their grapes to Beronia under long-term contracts for 40 years.
Grapes are mainly sourced from Ollauri, Briones (notably the Valpierre valley which spreads from these villages to the river Nájera basin), San Vicente, Villalba, Haro, Rodezno or Casalarreina. The Rioja Alta origin is particularly marked in this house. Garnacha from Tudelilla and Monte Yerga in Rioja Baja is the exception. The average age of vines stands around 40 to 45 years, but grapes destined to Gran Reserva and other premium wines exceeds 60 years. Beronia also looks after a rare pre-phylloxera plot by the river Ebro (occasional floods have kept the insect away) whose grapes usually end in the top red III a. C.
Throughout the years the Crianza (€6.5), Reserva (€11.50) and Gran Reserva (€24) have experienced some changes: while the Reserva is aged now in mixed American-French oak barrels, 100% French oak has been used for the Gran Reserva since the 2001 vintage. Nowadays, Beronia produces just about every wine category in Rioja starting with a young Viura white and a pale rosé made with Garnacha and Tempranillo (both €6 in Spain) and an organic Tempranillo (€8.20).
The single-varietal collection stands out with the original, fresh and youthful Tempranillo fermented and briefly aged in American oak barrels (€14); a vibrant Graciano with lots of red fruit (€10.50) and the structured, powerful Mazuelo (€14.90) that benefits from some cellaring.
The high-end range includes a Limited Edition Crianza (€13), Beronia Viñas Viejas (€15) made from +40-year-old Tempranillo vines,198 Barricas Selección (€22) with some Mazuelo and Graciano in the blend and vines older than 60 years and, finally, the top III a. C. (€53), a modern, concentrated red with more extraction.
Visitors are welcomed in a spacious wine shop presided by a striking lamp made with barrel staves. Benefitting from the surrounding vineyard, all wine tours have a focus on wine growing and finish with a tasting. There are specific tours centered around the single-varietal collection and the premium wines. Wine tasting courses can also be arranged.