The thorough care and control of the vineyard and a rigorous selection of grapes from the main "terroirs" and places of D.O.Ca. Rioja is the basis of the quality of our wines.
The origin, type and style of fine wine characterises and defines Bodegas SANTALBA.
The local Tempranillo variety is the star among reds at Bodegas SANTALBA, though the remaining Rioja grapes - Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo - are not without their presence. As for varieties of whites, we use the Viura and, to a lesser extent, the Rioja Malvasía, both are which are native to La Rioja.
Bodegas SANTALBA has undertaken and continues to develop a Permanent R&D&I Project based on achieving the highest content of anti-oxidants in the grapes from the vineyards. Only natural, ecological grape growing techniques are used for this purpose. This has enabled us to create the wine with the highest levels of natural resveratrol to date: our ECOLOGICAL SANTALBA.
The orography, the orientation of the plots, the composition of the ground and the climatology make that the enclave where Bodegas SANTALBA selects its grapes is the ideal place for the development of the vine.
The grapes come from both their own organic vineyards and from wine growers who are regular suppliers of the winery.
In addition to the climate, soil type and composition, characteristics of the age of the vineyard and variety of strains, among others, the quality of the grape also depends on the tasks done over the course of the growth cycle of the vine. The most important of these include:
Thinning or green harvesting: This involves removing a certain percentage of the bunches before ripening has finished. The reduction in the number of bunches per vine improves grape development (increase in substances including sugar and polyphenols [colour]) and key factors which impact the quality of the wine produced.
Ploughing: This involves turning over the soil to improve oxygenation and remove the vegetation competing for water and nutrients with the vine.
Leaf removal: This involves removing some of the leaves from the vine to improve aeration, aid ripening and prevent diseases caused by excess moisture.
Trimming: This process sees the removal of secondary shoots which have grown among the main ones; the goal of this operation is to prevent an excess of branches forming as this would reduce the energy available in the vine to form bunches.
Tipping: Work on the vine which involves cutting away the ends of the shoots to facilitate harvesting, improve the aeration of the bunches and reduce the vegetative load on the vine.
Debudding: In spring, we need to remove the shoots or suckers from the old wood, trunk and branches of the vine, which enables better development of the shoots which grow from the buds and carry the bunches. This work is done by hand.
Pruning: Work undertaken in winter when the sap pulls down to the root of the vine to protect it and the leaves fall as a result of the cold. This involves cutting the branches of the vine after harvesting. Mechanical or manual shears are used for this work.
All of this work is done to improve development of the vineyard, so the quality of the grape at the end of the cycle, when it is harvested, is as high as possible, i.e. so the raw material is the best possible to make fine wines.
Likewise, harvesting - the key task needing to be done in a short period of time - must be done wisely, remembering at all times that we are picking grapes that will later produce a quality stock. This means not all grapes are acceptable. At Bodegas Santalba, we select the grapes by plot and harvest by hand. Some singular vines are harvested in 12 kilo boxes, others in 300 kilo crates or boxes, while the remainder go into 3,000 kilo (approx.) wine trailers. These come to the winery protected from the sun and heat, while the trailers are also cooled using dry ice, meaning the grapes arrive at the winery in optimal conditions.