Bodegas Bilbaina Vina Pomal Rioja 1970 (3183)

Bodegas Bilbaina Vina Pomal Rioja 1970 (3183)


During the interregnum between the Rioja boom of the 1870s and early ’80s, and the next (and rather short-lived) Rioja boom of the 1920s, French companies which had invested in the region were anxious to get out, and bodegas were available at relatively modest prices. Meanwhile, a Bilbao wine merchant, Santiago de Ugarte y Aurrecoechea, was tapping into the industrial boom of the port city, and wanted to ensure that he had ready supplies of good wine from Rioja. In 1901, he did a deal with Sauvignon Frères y Cía in Haro and bought their bodega, changing its name to Bodegas Bilbaínas in the process.


Ugarte took over a splendid winery in the typical honey-gold stone of the region, and with its own railway siding; the tracks (no longer connected to the main line) may still be seen alongside the old loading bay. The business expanded through various contacts, and Ugarte realized that the export market was vital to the company’s future. Indeed, from 1925 to 1966, it had a dedicated office in London to service the UK market. Santiago de Ugarte retired in 1929 and handed the business over to his two sons, who continued in his expansionist style. In the 1970s, the next generation took over in the form of the founder’s grandson-in-law Gonzalo Díez de Corral, and grandson, another Santiago Ugarte. They continued to expand the bodega and also increased the area of vineyards to become one of the largest vineyard landowners in Rioja.


Today, the elegant formal gardens and the old bodega are elegantly caparisoned, the entrance hall has been restored to its original magnificence, and Bilbaínas still has the largest area of privately owned vineyards in Rioja. In addition, the wines destined to become reserva and gran reserva are sourced from the company’s own vineyards, the names of which are, perhaps, even better known that that of the bodega: Viña Pomal, Viña Zaco, Viña Paceta, and the very small La Vicalanda.

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