Help! How to get a Vega Sicilia visit

6 of us are traveling in Spain in late May and have some great appointments set up already, but when I contacted Vega Sicilia, we were told they are not open to the public. One of our 6 is a recently retired CEO and founder of a large wine distributor and he has no leverage there.

Do any of you have the ability to get us in? [worship.gif]

Tell them you’ll be arriving by helicopter?

Did you tell them that one of you is a retired CEO and founder of a large wine distributor?

You won’t get in. They don’t do the visitor thing unless you’re actually a friend. CEO doesn’t matter. Whether you sell their wine or not doesn’t matter either - if you don’t someone else will. Best bet is to try some other places. There are lots of good wineries in Ribera del Duero, as well as some great historical sites.

Yes, and here was their reply:

"Thank you for contacting Tempos Vega Sicilia and for your confidence in our wines.

Our wineries are not open to the public and unfortunately, for this reason we are not able to attend to your request, with all due respect since you are wine professionals and a very interesting group.

Throughout the year we receive very few guests at our wineries, exclusively from our importers with whom we share a commercial relationship.

Once again, I´d like to express our gratitude and apologize for the inconveniences."

Please suggest a couple Greg. We do have an appointment at Pedrosa in the 11am on the day we are there= Saturday, May 30.

BTW, I almost PM`d you for this request but hoped you would pick up on it and respond which you did- thanks.

Pesquera?

I got a visit at Vega (no thanks to me). One of the guys who works for me has a pastry biz on the side selling to a bunch of DC restaurant guys. One of the restaurant guys wrote to VS and they let us come. Wifey and I went with him and his wife.

Cool tour. You taste in an outdoor Pagoda behind the winery. You also get to see the giant aging warehouse and the cooperage.

The tasting was Valbuena (not Unico) and their Tokaji. Also made present of a cool VS coffee table book and coasters made from the fronts of old barrels with their logo.

In RdD, visit Aalto. Also, go see Carlos at Hacienda Monasterio. Best of our many tastings there.

We left a day before Stephane and he and his wife went to Pingus the day we left. Said it was also way cool.

-af

Maybe contact Nola, she may have some insight, can’t hurt [cheers.gif]

Blake - I’ll send you a PM.

If you’re at Bodegas Pedrosa, you’re near Roa. My first choice would be about 20 miles east of there in Burgos. There was some English MW who a few years ago said that Spain doesn’t have distinctive terroir like France, which is of course an utterly ignorant comment. In the RdD region, Burgos is towards the north and Valladolid is towards the west, and if you taste the wines from each reason, you’ll note that those from Burgos tend to be bigger and more tannic, as compared to say, Valladolid, somewhat like the difference between the right and left banks of Bordeaux. That’s obviously a simplification, but it’s what I’ve noticed.

In order, if you’re only there a day, my choices would be J.A. Calvo Casajus, Abadía de Acón, Mauro, and maybe Conde Neo, just because Neo is so different. They are rock and roll guys with a music studio at the bodega. Mauro was of course a project of the great Mariano Garcia, who is one of the world’s great wine makers. It’s just outside of the region towards Valladolid, but the others are clustered together.

If you all haven’t been to the region before, go visit Protos. They are actually the history of the region. In the early 1900s, a few growers got together to form what was called the Ribera del Duero winery. Many years later when the designation of origin was created, they gave their name to the DO. They have a massive underground cellar and a visit with them will give you a lot of the local history. It’s like visiting Napa for the first time - you should visit Mondavi and BV before you visit all the new guys.

There are something like 300 bodegas these days in RdD. Not all accept tourists but some of the newer ones do.

And there’s a store called Vinosribera.com that you might want to check out. They sell lots of wines from RdD and they ship, but they may only ship within Europe – I’m not sure.

I sent you a list that you can visit starting at one end and ending up at the other - they’re all pretty close so not a difficult trip.

In addition to those, obviously, Pesquera is worth a visit as it’s probably the winery that kicked off RdD as a DO, Vega Sicilia having been around for a lot longer. Alejandro Fernández decided that he was going to make great wine, which he considers the equal to Latour, but he wasn’t going to charge Latour prices. He still doesn’t. Had some real cork problems in the 1990s but he’s back. Also his Condado de Haza is worth a visit.

Bodegas Hermanos Pérez Pascuas is also one of the four founding members of the DO back in the 1980s and they have one of the oldest cellars. Another bodega that used to sell grapes and decided to strike out on their own.

And the city of Valladolid is quite historic. It’s where Ferdinand and Isabella were married.

Anyway, PM sent.

Greg, Mike, Aaron, Julian and Ramon, thank you all for your contributions to my plea. I’ve received many great suggestions and appreciate them all. Very grateful.

Coincidentally, I’m planning to attend a Vega Sicilia portfolio tasting led by their technical director next weekend here in Houston. I’ll ask him and PM you if he’s helpful.

They were in LA a couple weeks ago. Álvarez too. If he invites you, you’re good. But a few years ago he had a dinner to celebrate their hundredth birthday and he didn’t invite any reviewers or critics or wine company execs. They all attended the official event the next day.

The first time I visited was through a friend of their old winemaker Xavier Ausas. I had a personal visit with him, just two of us, a few weeks before he left, he opened up the whole lineup plus old vintages. Let us take left overs too!

The best way is through their US importer, if you buy every year they’ll make an exception most likely. The other is if you meet, and know Pablo Alvarez, their technical director or export manager. If you know someone from a highly acclaimed restaurant that sells their wine, they can also help.

As for other places I highly recommend Dominio del Águila, I represent them in Panama and can ask if they can provide a visit. Mauro is a great visit too, just email them, they’re like 10 min away from Vega… and Mariano used to be their old winemaker.

You can also try Pingus, email them. I had luck a few times, let them know that you know their wines and that can help. If you know spanish its much easier as well.

Alejandro Fernandez has parted ways with his Pesquera winery, an ugly family dispute. They’ve rebranded, its now called Bodegas Fernandez-Rivera. The old man started a new winery, don’t know the name yet.

Perez Pascuas is also an old school operation worth a visit. Consider Bodegas La Horra that makes Corimbo, it’s Roda’s Ribera label. I can also help getting a visit here, I know one of the winemakers.

Drop me a PM if I can help you further.

Fabulous post, great updated info and much appreciated- thank you so much. I’m working on it and have filled in some blanks.

I visited them last year and it was incredible. Tasted their dry Hungarian white and ‘09 unico. It is a huge property and cooperage and the tour lasted hours. I hosted a Vega Sicilia dinner a couple years ago, and their America’s rep arranged my visit.
Would also highly recommend visiting Pingus. I love those wines (Pingus and flor de Pingus) and love his vision for the PSI (which has been popping up at costco in Seattle). Aalto is very modern James Bond feeling winery. Are you going to any other regions?

Thanks Travis. Regarding your last question, we are in Rioja for 3 days and have good appointments in place at Muga, LdH and La Rioja Alta with a couple of other options TBD. Our time in Spain follows a week in Portugal where we have accommodations and tastings set up by 2 major Port houses that my former CEO wine distributor friend, who were traveling with, has arranged this through their owners, his good friends who attend his outrageous Port tastings in LA every year. e.g. 20 Taylor Fladgate Ports from 1890-2016.

Don’t take it personally, Blake (not that you are). I recall a story from what was likely the early ‘90s from a fellow AOL wine board member, Gerry Dawson. He was the first person outside the estate/employees to taste the then unreleased 1970 Unico, some 20+ years after vintage. They have always been pretty secretive.

We are visiting Rioja in July, lots of good info here. Thanks.