Valverde is a small village in south-eastern Rioja, where the borders of four autonomous communities meet: La Rioja, Navarra, Aragón and Castilla-León. It is also a threshold area for vine growing, one of the most remote regions of the DOCa Rioja, where Bodegas Lauwa, an acronym for Laura and Wandert, crafts day by day a beautiful love story between two scientists.
Wandert and Laura met in Groningen (Holland). The Dutchman worked as a researcher in neuroscience and molecular biology while Laura was there with an Erasmus scholarship: "A crush like this is something that happens once in a lifetime, so I didn't hesitate and in 2014 I dropped everything to come to Spain,” remembers Wandert. He started working with his partner at Bilbao Technology Park in different research areas, but his father-in-law, Alfredo Bozal, a winegrower from Valverde, had already lit the fuse: "He made wine to drink at home and, as a molecular biologist, I was very intrigued by the process, so, although I didn't have much experience in wine, we began to study and we got hooked.”
After several artisanal attempts, Wandert and Laura built a small winery of about 80 m²: "I thought it was now or never...; at first my family and friends asked me if I was really sure to leave a stable job in the Netherlands, but my grandmother and my mother encouraged me to follow my heart and my father, who is a wine fanatic, is delighted that I am a winegrower and producer.”
Wandert bought a vineyard as soon as he arrived in Valverde and, together with some of his father-in-law's crop, they make three wines named Lauwa: a young red Tempranillo, a Vendimia Seleccionada which spends six months ageing in French oak barrels and a Tempranillo Blanco: "Wines are fermented wild, with no added commercial yeasts and we farm the vines trying to manage nature as best we can, but without altering it.”
Lauwa sells most of its production to Dutch restaurants, but is expanding its distribution nationwide. Of course, you can always discover his wines if you visit the winery, set in a designated rural Biosphere Reserve area: "Yes, we do wine tourism, in the vineyard; we love to share our dream with others," Wandert says.