Visiting Bodegas Gerardo Viteri, particularly if it involves a chat with Gerardo and his wife Aurora, is a great way of understanding the importance of recovering the memory of the real La Rioja —the memory of the families rather than the memory of the large companies, which has gradually eclipsed the former over the past decades.
But the good times didn’t last long. “In 2000 prices collapsed. At that time, the plan was to bottle and sell half of my production and sell the rest in bulk to other producers to offset my investment,” he explains. “The problem was that nobody wanted the wine so we just had to take it on the chin and carry on.” Nowadays Bodegas Gerardo Viteri grows 35 hectares of vines in Logroño, Lapuebla, Lanciego and Laserna and produces 250,000 bottles under its own brand. “Sales are good in surrounding regions like Bilbao, Vitoria or Logroño so what’s the point in complicating things with exports and paperwork?”
Gerardo Viteri doesn’t hide a mischievous grin when he talks about his impending retirement. His son David works in the vineyards and the winery but, being almost 67, he knows that, one way or another, he will be there most days of the rest of his life: “Where would I go? This is the only thing I know”.
His young wines (red, rosé and white) are called Viterico; the crianza and reserva go by the name of Legado de Viteri. Honest, unpretentious wines with Tempranillo playing the leading role. “This area is ideal for Tempranillo, with uncompacted limestone soils that retain water which help to produce fresh and pleasant wines,” he adds. “I don’t really understand the new wave of structured, powerful wines that are made these days; I like wines that are meant to be enjoyed with a good chat among family and friends; the kind of wines that you easily finish the bottle.”