Bodegas Fariña turned 75 this year. There are three generations behind; a big family who works a lot to make the best of their land. The winery is located in Zamora, Toro and it’s surrounded by some of the oldest vineyards in Spain.
Don Manuel Fariña, second generation of Bodegas Fariña and Manuel Fariña, third generation of Bodegas Fariña were together in their booth in Vinexpo Bordeaux 2017. Manuel Fariña answered my questions about his career, the winery and the region.
A family heritage that family turns into profession
How did Manuel Fariña start his career?
My father included me and my brother to work in the vineyard and in the winery. So in a natural way, we found each other in the wine world, because this is a heritage for us. In the holidays and weekends, I was always working in the winery and vineyards. Actually for us the winery is the same thing as home, because it is five minutes away from our house. I’ve always enjoyed more viticulture and to be in the field more than winemaking, so I’ve studied agronomy engineering. After my studies, in 2011, I started to work in our winery in a more serious way. Afterwards, I went to Australia for a period. When I came back, I felt like I was lacking some scientific knowledge in enology. For that reason, I’ve decided to study a master in enology in the Polytechnical University of Madrid. Since my graduation, I have been working in our winery.
A unique grape in a unique terroir, Tinta de Toro
Manuel Fariña explains
Tinta de Toro has been growing in our region for more than ten centuries according to historical data. The viticulturists of this region have been planting and choosing only the most adapted grapes for many years, so finally they ended up with this special clone of Tempranillo variety, which we call Tinta de Toro. It has peculiar characteristics; it makes a difference when compared with Tempranillo. In Toro, we have extreme climatic conditions, really cold winters and dry summers. So Tinta de Toro has looser bunches, smaller grains, thicker skin, smaller leaves and shorter vegetative cycle in comparison to Tempranillo, to adapt perfectly to these conditions in the region. We have various plantations of Tinta de Toro, all of the plants were obtained from the buds of old Tinta de Toro vines adapted to the region very well.
Apart from the Tinta de Toro, there is a really important characteristic of the vineyards of Toro: The majority of the vineyards are pre-phylloxeric. So thanks to this, there are a lot of plantations of which the vines are not grafted to a rootstock. This creates different morphological characteristics and development in the plant, which help us to produce totally different grapes and wines.
Pr1mero, not only wine but a piece of art
How the Primero wine was born?
This is a very interesting story because we had an importer in the Netherlands who was buying a lot of Beaujolais Nouveau. And he asked us if we would be interested in producing a young wine like this with carbonic maceration so he could sell them in the Netherlands. Carbonic maceration actually had been used traditionally in Toro a long time ago. So we made some trials with carbonic maceration and it worked very well. After we produced the wine, on the label we used a painting of a Dutch artist and we put it on the market in November 1995. In the beginning, we didn’t know how it would go, but it works very well both in the Netherlands and in Spain, they are all sold out at Christmas. Since 2006, we have been organizing a national painting contest to choose the label of Primero every year. So we have events going on all around the year, starting from the election of labels, exposition of the paintings of the contest and until the launch of the wine which is the wine festival for us. I think it contributes us a lot.
The wine museum in Bodegas Fariña
The wine museum in the winery comes from a really long time ago because my father always kept the ancient machinery of winemaking and viticulture, and tried to show them to the visitors. The museum is still under process, it is not 100% completed, we are putting together piece by piece, with photos, with stories behind, of the region and of the family to see how it’s developing the winemaking and viticulture in the last century. Currently, our idea is to unify the modern part dedicated to paintings of Primero contest which are abstract works.
Application Fariña for the smartphones
We are trying all the time to be updated with the innovations, although it’s not very easy for us as a small family winery. Around four years ago, we decided to launch an application for Fariña, first of all to have our webpage easier in all the smartphones and also to communicate with our clients about the novelties. In this application there is also a feature where you can have a virtual glass of our wine Primero, which is very exceptional. We are happy to contact with our consumers this way.
A family winery which always innovates
How Manuel Fariña sees the near future of the winery?
Lately, our decisions are going in the same way as the Spanish wines. We are making very important soil studies in our land to know better what we have and to work independently with each parcel. We would like to distinguish our wines with the type of the soil, exposition and varieties along with the intervention that the human can make on the wine, which, I believe, is very interesting. We are lucky that Tempranillo is everywhere around the world but we can put more value in this variety and I believe that all the Spanish wines are going in the same direction to increase the quality even more. As a winery, we are not searching for big projects that we cannot relate with. We will always keep our land close to us and work as a family, so we will be working on personal small projects. We are a really small region of Spain, very isolated and traditional but we are always trying to innovate. Sometimes we are making mistakes, which is also important because we are still learning our capacities. We’ve had the knowledge of making wine in the family for 75 years; my grandfather started it in a very tiny cellar down his house. Our aim is to put more value to our story and our tradition, with the knowledge coming from the family and by always feeding it with the new technologies.
We finished this pleasant conversation with a tasting of their selection of wines. In each wine, the tradition that meets the passion comes out. I thank Manuel Fariña for sharing their story with all of us.
All images © 2017 by Wines of Nesli. All rights reserved.