Viña Ijalba: all-round pioneers

Based in Logroño, this winery is the driving force behind the recovery of lost varieties, soil reconversion and organic viticulture in Rioja.

The history of Viña Ijalba began in the vineyards almost 50 years ago. Dionisio Ruiz Ijalba, a businessman specialized in aggregate extraction, decided to convert the old quarries into vineyards as the gravels began to be depleted. The result are vines planted on poor soils, reconditioned with tons of rock and earth. Today they form the foundations of this family winery in Logroño: 90 hectares, a good part of them in Rioja Media, in the vicinity of Logroño, and the rest in Rioja Alta, in San Vicente and Bañares.

The Ijalba vineyards are now reaching full maturity, with an average age of 25 to 28 years. The family winery stands out for its research efforts, leading the way in the recovery of indigenous grape varieties lost to genetic erosion. Under the guidance of the young winemaker Pedro Salguero, Viña Ijalba maintains, after 25 years, a unique approach focused on the use and research of native grape varieties, far removed from the dangerous globalisation that the wine business is currently facing: "Recovering a grape variety requires considerable financial effort, as it takes between 10 and 12 years before the wines are regularly placed on the market,” explains Salguero.

Viña Ijalba pioneered the recovery of Maturana Blanca, Maturana Tinta and Turruntés. In addition, they also worked from the very beginning with a small group of wineries with the nascent Tempranillo Blanco variety. Viña Ijalba also led the way in the 1990s with the launch of the first 100% Graciano in Rioja, when it was considered a bit of a mad idea to produce a varietal other than Tempranillo, as well as in certifying its vineyards and wines organically.

Cristina Gutiérrez, third generation of the family, is now at the helm of Viña Ijalba. She has revamped the company's corporate image and reorganised the wines to include a classical range and a collection of varietals in Burgundy bottles: "It was a difficult decision because we had a very distinctive visual identity and even different bottles, but, as my grandfather says, if you dare to struggle, you dare to win. We have matured as a winery and we also needed a new design,” the producer points out. Courage, differentiation and, above all, generosity have passed down naturally in the family from generation to generation. These qualities make Viña Ijalba, situated very close to Logroño’s old quarter, a must-visit winery.