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Finca Villacreces

One of the most highly-regarded pieces of land in Ribera del Duero, the estate of Villacreces sits adjacent to Vega […]

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Finca Villacreces

One of the most highly-regarded pieces of land in Ribera del Duero, the estate of Villacreces sits adjacent to Vega Sicilia along the Duero and at the center of the golden mile – a cluster of vineyards and estates considered by many critics to be the best in Valladolid if not the entire DO. There is written evidence that the first vines were planted on this estate in the 13th Century. During the 14th Century, it was run by Saint Pedro de Villacreces. Later on, with its perfect conditions for prayer and retreat, it became a monastery for Franciscan Friars to see contemplative solitude. In the 20th Century, the property belonged to a wealthy aristocratic family from Valladolid, who spent their holidays and weekends here. In the early 1970s, 40 hectares of vines were planted, which has now been increased to 60. Including a 200-year-old forest, the estate comprises a total of 115 hectares.

We have worked with Finca Villacreces since the early 1990s and when we had to be selective of what we chose to import. The estate was a diamond in the rough with untidy vineyards and inconsistent cellar practices. Despite these drawbacks, we were not alone in finding something special in this terruño within a bend of the Duero, and some of the most promising parcels had already been leased to more famous neighbors. So when word got out that the estate had been sold, we were nervous that the new owners would incautiously modernize the property and strip it of its unique charms.

Luckily for everyone, it was the Antón family – owners of Izadi in Rioja – who purchased the estate and invested in revitalizing the property and cellars. Most of the vines were not well-tended, so while yields were low, the quality was uneven. The first step in rescuing the vineyards was to switch to sustainable and organic practices, which culminated with organic certification in 2017. Next was utilizing the access rights to the Duero, dating back to the time when the property was a monastic retreat to nurse the vines to their full potential gradually, all while working the soils to force the roots deeper. The final step was to counter the vegetative vigor of drip irrigation by carefully managing the canopy. The results are healthy vines that are less dependent on irrigation, revitalized soils, deeper root systems, and more self-regulating plants than before.

In the cellar, the Antón family removed the old wooden fermentation vats replacing them with stainless steel and new French oak vats. The barrel stocks were completely replaced with new French and American oak barrels. Over time the percentage of new barrels has decreased, and more of the wine is being aged in foudres and well-seasoned oak. There are three cuvées made at Finca Villacreces, each vintage. Pruno is sourced from the sandier soils of the estate vineyard, those parcels closest to the Duero river, and older and younger vine fruit from the estate vineyards situated above the river on a thin layer of clay over sand and gravel soils. The estate Ribera del Duero comes from the oldest estate vines planted on clay over sand and gravel. Nebro is made from a single 1.2-hectare parcel of pre-phylloxera vines in the neighboring subzone of Burgos.

Castilla y Leon, Spain
  • Location
    Castilla y Leon, Spain
  • Primary Appellation
    Ribera del Duero
  • Proprietor
    Familia Anton
  • Winemaker
    Lluís Laso
  • Size / Elevation
    64 hectares / 750 meters
  • Age of Vines
    5-35 years
  • Farming
    Certified organic
  • Varieties
    Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
  • Cellar
    Hand harvested, destemmed but not crushed, whole berry fermentation with regular pigeage, aging in French oak barrels
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