Las Naves, the vineyard that greets visitors upon arrival to the winery. For the longest time, I didn´t truly appreciate her beauty. In my naiveté, it was average and I tended to judge it by what appeared to be its rich red topsoil. To me, it was like a spoiled child that never had to work for anything. You see, I’m accustomed to the white limestone-rich soils that grace our village (and Rioja Alavesa in general) where outside of wheat and some olive trees, not much else can thrive. I curiously watched David tending to the vines in Las Naves, placing posts – something he reserved for only a handful of our vineyards – and wondered why this vineyard? I would try to pry ask him general questions about the vineyard to which he responded with placating answers (what, my David? Noooo).
But something in me started changing. After spending more time with her, I started to appreciate her unique character. She falls into our typical old vine philosophy as she was planted in 1937. David laughs at me because I’ve become quite selective in what I consider an “old vineyard” … 50 years is still young (perhaps this is subconscious and as I age my definition of “old” evolves as well). One day we used a backhoe to dig holes in the soil and explore her underbelly. In many places, the power of the backhoe was stopped after just over a meter down.
David wasn’t surprised by this as he noticed the obvious, which somehow seemed to elude me. This so-called rich topsoil was a thin veil hiding thick limestone rock. It was as if for the first time my eyes were opened and I started to notice the large scattered rocks that protruded above the surface of the vineyard.
Being that we had a backhoe at our fingertips on this day, we decided to dig 3 holes in a corner of the vineyard as well in order to place barrels underground that would one day be home to our Maria Thun biodynamic preparations. While doing so we unearth chalky white limestone that lay in stark contrast to its alluvial disguise.
With each plunge into the soul of this vineyard, I knew I was starting to fall for her. I walked the rows and was awed by the tenacity of her vines. The top layer was so shallow the stubborn the vines had grown spider-like arms from either side of the original vine in order to establish more roots and sustain its life. Now everywhere I turned, the spider-like vines were there clinging to the soil and showing me they were not going anywhere without a fight.
That’s when I accepted this vineyard as part of our family – it had the driving character of most everyone in our family – good or bad – it was stubborn. Determined to survive despite all odds. You put a roadblock in its way, try to hinder its growth, and it will find a way to rise above and continue moving forward.
Las Naves – I’m sorry for not appreicaiting your inner beauty, your strength and character that was there all along. I should have known you were humble. I should have not judged you by your exterior and my ignorance. Forgive me.