Castillo de Mendoza: a forward-looking approach

Their pioneering commitment to organic production and exports define the history of this winery in San Vicente.

Owners of vineyards in San Vicente, the Mendoza Cadarso family, from the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, decided in the mid-1990s to start producing their own wines at Castillo de Mendoza.

Intended initially as a hobby, Castillo de Mendoza started to sell its wines commercially in 2003. Winemaker Marta Besga, who joined the business in that same year, takes care of some 40 hectares of vineyards in San Vicente. Organic farming is at the heart of the estate: "We started farming organically with a small vineyard in the mountains, but we now have 25 certified hectares. The rest of them are actually managed in the same way, although there are some plots which are not certified because they are insufficiently isolated".

Castillo de Mendoza's green strategy has boosted its exports which now represent 60% of its total production. Things are changing, but a few years ago, when you offered Spanish consumers organic wine, they would ask for the 'other' type," Marta remembers. "There's more awareness now and some prejudices have finally been eroded, but to this day, it is the people abroad who are more discerning about these issues. In my opinion, it should be a shared responsibility among all winegrowers.”

They make a wide range of wines, including Chirimendo, a young carbonic maceration wine that represents the region's historic winemaking style, and two Crianzas called Noralba —an acronym for Eloy Mendoza's granddaughters, Nora and Alba—, a red wine and a very delicate, fine white wine made from Viura grapes. Castillo de Mendoza Autor represents the personal interpretation of winemaker Marta Besga, while Evento is a superb wine made from carefully selected grapes, intended for long ageing and only bottled in the most special vintages. Castillo de Mendoza is a female-run winery. Carolina Mendoza, the owner's daughter, manages the company, while Marta Besga looks after the winemaking and the vineyards and her sister María is in charge of public relations, visits and export.