Between Sierra de Yerga and Sierra de La Hez, our family has developed the cultivation of multiple vineyards located at high altitude (600-800 meters):
1. El Arca
- Varietal: Garnacha
This is one of our oldest and most spectacular vineyards in the area. It is located in the surrounding area of Quel, guarded by its castle perched on the cliffs above the village. There is an ancient irrigation system where the flow of water can be diverted and controlled by the inhabitants of the Cidacos valley.
The vineyard itself is less than 1 hectare and was planted more than 100 years ago. It has been carefully restored in a strong attempt to preserve its history, beauty and the high quality grapes that it produces. The vines resemble sculptures due to their size and shape, and in the midst of them, some white varietals co-mingle with red varietals.
The yield per vine is very limited at less than 3,000 kg per hectare. The pain-staking work of the Ontañon team, and the vine growing tradition in Rioja contribute in bringing a slow and even ripening of the grapes.
It is an excellent illustration of a « single vineyard » site.
In 2019 we harvested less than 2000 kg, which translates to less than 1 kg per vine. We can practically say that each bottle of Queirón El Arca represents a single vine from this historic vineyard.
2. La Perdida
- Varietal: Garnacha
Less than 1 hectare vineyard located in the “La Geriganza” area. A dry-farmed vineyard planted using the gobelet system, it has very poor soils of sand and stone, with deep old clay slabs cracked by the vine roots seeking water in the ground beneath it.
We short-prune the bushes in order to provide shade from the vineshoots and leaves for the soil.
Very low yields due to the lack of water lead to ripe, concentrated fruit that is intense in colour and has elegant freshness.
3. La Bartola
- Varietals : Garnacha and Tempranillo
This vineyard is surrounded by reed beds, almond trees, cherry trees and olive trees which line a winding path along the fields of Quel.
Situated in the mountains with a waterway as a border, La Bartola is a very small and enchanting vineyard with guardaviñas, which winegrowers used as a shelter while tending to their vines.
Free-roaming wildlife who eat the seasonal fruits of the valley, can be spotted during both dawn and dusk.
The vines are strong, old, and quite tall, with numerous well formed morgones (shoots that penetrate deep into the soil) resisting the hot summers and getting water only from the rains in autumn and spring.
The soil is arid and sandy, with a few pebblestones as well as deep old clay slabs that are weathered and cracked from years of exposure.
The grapes from this vineyard are the typical classic Garnacha grape that comes from old vines, and are full of aroma and colour.
4. La Remediana
- Variedad: Viura
The vineyard is located in Quel, at the foot of Monte Isasa and producing Viura, one of the flagship grapes of Ontañon. Our most awarded white wines are made out of Viura, and acknowledged among the best 100 wines of the world. La Remediana is surrounded by vineyards and pastures, and frequented by local free-range wildlife.
Another nearby vineyard, La Jabalina, is the source of Tempranillo Blanco, another important white grape in the region. Ontañon has made a sincere commitment to this variety since it was discovered and approved for cultivation. The results throughout the years confirm the perfect adaptation to the conditions of Rioja Oriental and the altitude of our vineyard land.
Growing in mostly light, sandy, textured soils, the vine roots go deep into the earth, reducing the impact of the weather conditions throughout the year and otherwise leading to homogeneous, or very evenly ripened fruit. Furthermore, the NW and SE orientation of the vineyard provides excellent aereation to keep the grape clusters healthy.
5. La Pasada
- Varietal : Tempranillo
This is one of the most precious and beloved vineyards held by the four generations of the Pérez Cuevas family. It is here where they spent so many very special moments of their childhood.
The vineyard consists of poor soils, rich in sand, with pebblestones and old clay that retains moisture during the torrid hot summers.
La Pasada is quite isolated and is surrounded by pine forests and old oak trees. It is divided into several plots, or tablas, following the terrain and seeking the best orientation to the sun, creating a scenario for the perfect ripening of the grapes. Thanks to the pronounced slopes and the difference of temperature between the highest and lowest points, a constant flow of air passes through during the day aiding in the prevention of disease. Futhermore, being located at such a high altitude causes huge diurnal swings in temperature in summer between day and night. These temperature swings allow us to achieve velvety tannins and an otherwise perfect balance in the grape ripening process.
The soil consists of alternate layers of light sand, sandstone and large rocks, followed by layers of old clay and more sandstone. This enables the roots to go deep into the ground in search of water and remain hydrated during the hot summers.
This vineyard is located in one of the highest elevation points of the hillsides of Monte Yerga, which has an elevation between 720 and 810 meters with a vertical drop of 70% and steep slopes with a grade over 30%.
6. El Andañal
- Varietals : Tempranillo and Mazuelo
The vineyard is located at the foot of Monte Isasa, on the path towards La Pasada vineyard. It is composed of a few parcels with both younger and older vines. The soil types and the lack of irrigation in this vineyard facilitate low yielding crops with an excellent quality standard, high acidity and phenomenal concentration of colour.
The ripening is often slower than our other Tempranillo sites, and is overall even and steady. The vineyard is composed of mainly Tempranillo as well as a small tabla (parcel) of Mazuelo.
7. Graciano Almendros
- Varietal: Graciano
Located between two areas called La Rad and Hoyo Judio at 650 metres of altitude, this vineyard has poor soil consisting mostly of sand with a little bit of clay and the riverstones typcial of Quel.
Graciano needs a longer maturation period to achieve good balance between tannins, sugar and acidity. Therefore we carefully choose the best moment to harvest the fruit.
As an integral part of our blends, Graciano provides silky tannins, colour intensity and expresses the character of the soil where it grows.
In the high altitude sites where this grape thrives, the vertical drop can be over 15%.
It is from the upper parts of these slopes where we select the best plots and harvest by hand first thing in the morning in small, 10 kg crates.