“Wine is a living thing that requires attention, passion and care.”
Today Juan Ramón García will share his vinicultural insights with us. Originally from Salamanca, he is now the enologist who runs the Pago del Cielo winery in Ribera del Duero and the Magarín winery in Rueda. He was kind enough to share some of his valuable time, recollections and knowledge with us.
“I can still see the winegrowers heading down the steep hills, carrying baskets full of grapes to the carts; I can still hear those old sounds, the voices and switches of the ox drivers as they spurred the animals to obey and bring the valuable cargo to the cooperatives; I can still smell the scent of nearby forests, honey and must.”
It was inevitable that some of these memories would have a profound impact on Juan Ramón as a child, someone who seemed destined to cultivate a lifelong connection to the land. His family raised cattle and grew strawberries for a living. Hard work from dusk til dawn, shaping his identity as a country boy. The wine came later:
“I was already interested in the wine world, but the “itch” didn’t really start until I went to Valladolid and began studying chemistry. The summer after graduation, a family member introduced me to a local winemaker, and he convinced me to work at his winery for a season with the condition that I continue my studies in the field of enology…”
Said and done. Juan Ramón felt an immediate connection to the vineyard and the winery, a calling that awoke and culminated in the cradle of wine—Bordeaux—after completing his degree in enology. “One night after tasting superb wines at Château Pape Clément, the winery where I was working at the time, I realized that I had chosen the right path.”
Today Juan Ramón, the winemaker, divides his time and efforts between two projects that are as ambitious as they are thrilling. A red and a white wine that stay true to their varietal identity but still bear the imprint of his craftsmanship.
“A Ribera del Duero should have high color and aroma intensity, lots of fruit and a fine, elegant palate. In Rueda we’re looking for the highlights of a brilliant wine that is intensely aromatic, with characteristic Verdejo varietal notes like fennel, anise, citrus, and a nervy palate with good length.”
In this new chapter in his professional life, Juan Ramón endorses Familia Torres’s decision to consolidate its presence in these appellations of origin, convinced of the mutually positive exchange between the two appellations and the Penedès-based family.
“Familia Torres is known throughout the wine world for its excellent work, much like the two regions have an excellent reputation in many countries. By uniting these two elements, we reinforce the prestige of our wines.”
Juan Ramón, like all good enologists, suffers through every harvest. It is a tension-filled coupage of trust, nervous anticipation and the weight of great responsibility. “This is the moment when a few days decide the fate of an entire year’s work, but the tension is magnificent,” he insists.
As a wine lover, Juan Ramón is soundly and eminently reasonable:
“All I ask of a wine is not to disappoint me, to meet the minimum expectations I may have. If on top of that it is pleasantly surprising, even better. And if a wine offers me something new and special in every glass then it is clearly a great wine.”
Before concluding our chat, Juan Ramón emphasizes how important company is to the art of drinking. That being said, he isn’t entirely averse to enjoying a glass on his own… “a good wine is a good time in and of itself.”
He gives us his word as a winemaker.