Each wine maker has a unique story and all are facing different challenges but one thing they all have in common is the love for the land. Wine making is probably one of the most mystic trades of all times. For many of us is a dream life that evokes feelings of family tradition. This is exactly how Jaime, from bodegas Faelo, thinks. He learnt wine making from his grandfather, when they used to plant vines and press using traditional methods to make wine for the family use only. They soon became known for their wine in the nearby villages. In the 30s, with the Spanish civil war booming, Jaime’s granddad started selling wine in bulk or as they call it “a granel”. The production continued to increase with Jaime’s dad taking over the Bodega in the 60s and 70s, when Jaime was a little boy. Jaime and his sisters had great fun during the Vintage season or “Vendimia” as they call it in Spain.

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They learnt a wealth of knowledge that is not codified anywhere, like most early Californian wine makers, which were predominantly Italian Inmigrantes with no viticulturist training. Jaime was taught to love the land and to care for the vine, without expecting anything in return other than a good glass of wine to pair the family and friends meals. They became increasingly proud of the excellent results of their small family venture. As time went by, the bodega was no longer a home for the family. The older generation could no longer care for the vines and Jaime and his sisters move on to take other trades that offer more security.

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However, the nostalgia for the Vendimia was always on Jaime’s mind and it was this that made Jaime to take the decision to invest and redesign the way wine was made by his family. Hi started bottling wine; he changed the planting of the vine experimenting with varios autochthonous  grapes varieties such as Tempranillo and Monastrell, as well as other European grapes such Shiraz and Cavernet Sauvignon. He became interested in environmental methods and the way they had a positive impact on the flavours and aromas of the wine.

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He created La Dama after experimenting with different blends; he found that using 50% Monastrell and 50% Cavernet Sauvignon resulted in a very pleasant combination. He then went on and acquired more land outside the perimeter of the bodegas, in order to increase the production to 10,000 bottles.  His Monastrell, planted at just 60 mts above sea level, presents many challenges: for instance, the lack of rainfall. This meant that Jaime needed to rely almost entirely on watering system and to avoid proliferation of insects, as they seem to be more persistent near sea level.  However all this stress on the vine results in a much fuller and fragrant Monastrell.

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Jaime does not adjust his blending to achieve a balanced taste, as is done in most vineyards here in Alicante. He literally uses the mix as it comes out from the ground, so it will varies each season. He does not use any synthetic clarification process. He continues to use traditional artisan methods. La Dama is distributed by specialised local retailers, as well as in Madrid and Barcelona.  Jaime sees himself as a preparation generation or as a guardian of the land for his children that are already showing interest on wine making.

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During our conversation, I popped up the question of the usage of co-operatives in order to make the bodega grow. Jaime’s view is that maintaining sole control of the bodega, as far as possible, is key and he does not see this to be possible under the co-operative models.

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Clearly, there are still plenty of gaps in the wine market. A company that is rapidly responding to this market gap in Australia is “Vinomofo”. This company has become successful at marketing and curating wines from small producers. Equally important on the list is “The real wine review” with their section “Who makes my wine”. They focus on disclosing the maker information producing for larger labels, like supermarkets own wine brands.

 

What we see is that technology is shortening the generation gap for wine makers. Many wine makers that learnt by family traditions are waiting for the next generation to acquire the necessary knowledge, to take their quality and production to another league. However, the global village has opened a gate flow for many smaller wine makers that feel eager to get the know-how, particularly in areas such as Marketing and branding.

There were the little things that Jaime’s grandpa showed to him which will make their lives bigger.

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Useful Links

http://www.vinosladama.com

http://www.vinomofo.com

http://www.therealreview.com

 

Images

Feature Image – Faelo Family at the bodega during vendimia season

From Top down

  1. Traditional foot pressing by the Faelo’s
  2. Religious images found at the Bodega
  3. Shyra  vines at Bodegas Faelo used for their Rose wine
  4. Vintage Fotos of the family displayed at the Bodega during vendimia
  5. Vintage Fotos of the family displayed at the Bodega during vendimia
  6. Antic grape press currently still in use.