Bodegas Ontañón is a multi-generation family winery located in Rioja Baja. Our 250 hectares (approximately 620 acres) of vineyards are located high in the Sierra Yerga mountains outside the town of Quel, which has been one of Rioja's most distinguished wine centers for three centuries. We pride ourselves on keeping these vineyards as sustainable as possible, as it is our land that supports our family wine tradition. "Passion for the vine, passion for wine and passion for the arts" is our motto as we believe that each of these elements contributes to the human experience and illustrates the essential connection of earth, people and culture.
Raquel, Rubén and María Pérez Cuevas are part of the fifth generation of the Pérez Cuevas family, which continues the tradition of growing grapes in the south of Rioja. Their father, Gabriel, inherited some of the family's vineyards, located on the high slopes of the Sierra de Yerga Mountains, south of the Ebro River in the Rioja Baja. When he took over the management in the early 1980s, Gabriel started making wine from these vineyards, rather than selling the fruit as his ancestors had done. He was determined to produce wines from the Quel region, where his family had deep roots and where he believed that the highest quality wines from the Rioja region were produced. He began selling his wines, then labeled "Arteso" in the area and later all over Spain.
As sales grew, Gabriel bought more land in vineyards in his home region. In the days of my father and grandfather, Quel was the center of quality wine from Rioja. All the original "cellars" were placed in the rocks surrounding the city, with clay fermentation vats with chimneys leading straight to the top of the rocks. The grapes were delivered in old baskets (comportillo) and carried down the slopes to the vineyard chimneys by mules. This tradition evolved primarily as a practical measure, so that neither the winemakers nor their animals had to carry the harvest down the steep cliffs, and it also reflected the early gravity systems. Of course, at this age, there were no barrels, and there were no specific rules for wine making, as now in D.O. Ca. from Rioja, but the fruit from this part of Rioja was known among the best growers.
Rioja has a long and rich history of wine production, dating back to Roman times. Situated in northern Spain on both sides of the Ebro River, the unique terrain differs from the surrounding areas. The Rioja wine growing region consists of three sub-regions along the Upper Ebro: Alavesa, Alta and Baja. The area is situated between two opposing climates - Atlantic and Mediterranean - both with mild temperatures and annual rainfall of 400 m2. Alavesa's climate is more influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, and the land consists of terraces and small plots of chalk. Alta's climate is also influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, but the soil is more diverse and includes clay chalk, ferric clay, and sedimentary soils. On the other hand, the Mediterranean Sea with its sedimentary and clay soil has a greater influence on the warmer and drier climate of Baji.
The Rioja's soils make it ideal for growing top-quality varieties that are balanced in structure, have high acidity and only need a moderate amount of water during the summer months. Rioja consists of several microclimates with extremely diverse soils, which is reflected in the unique characteristics of its wines. This, combined with the many different winemaking practices and grape varieties, enables winemakers to produce wines with very different personalities but which remain true to the region's history and characteristics.
In order to ensure the quality of the Consejo Regulador of D.O.C.a. Rioja sets a maximum yield of 6,500 kilograms per hectare for red varieties and a maximum of 9,000 kilograms per hectare for all white varieties. Currently, Rioja produces around 280-300 liters per year, 90 percent of which is red wine.