There are countless wineries around the world that grow their own grapes, thus controlling the process from vineyard to bottle.
But Bodegas Muga, situated in the famed Rioja Alta region of Spain, takes things a step further. It actually has coopers on staff to build the estate’s oak barrels and vats.
There are 14,000 barrels made out of different types of oak, including French (Allier, Tronçais or Jupilles), American, Hungarian, Russian and even a small consignment of Spanish oak.
One of the most traditional wineries in La Rioja, Bodegas Muga is located in the historic Barrio de La Estación — the railway station district — in Haro. The facilities, spanning some 270,000 square foot, are two centuries old, built mainly of stone and oak.
The winery was founded in 1932 by spouses Isaac Muga and Aurora Caño. Today, it’s run by the third generation of the family.
“We are obsessed with quality,” says Juan Muga, one member of that generation. “Everything we do is about continuously improving our vineyards, our winemaking and our people.”
The Bodegas Muga vineyards cover 620 acres at the foot of the Montes Obarenses. The site’s climate is exceptional due to the geography and orientation of the vines, as well as the surrounding climate — a mix of Mediterranean, Atlantic and Continental that combine to provide a most welcoming environment for growing wine grapes.
The soil consists mostly of clay and limestone, and a number of small terroirs, better known as microclimates, accommodate the growing of numerous varieties —
Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano among the reds, and Viura and Malvasia among the whites.
There are both “regular and “Reserva” bottlings offered, and many consider the “star wine” to be the Seleccion Especial. The 2009 vintage is a sublime blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano that’s aged for 28 months in oak casks crafted especially for the cuvee.
While New World technology is used to ensure quality in every bottle, the style of the wines is Old World, showcasing distinct minerality and earthiness. To experience the essence of Bodegas Muga, one need simply pour a glass of Muga Rosé and serve it alongside Marcona almonds and slivers of Manchego cheese.
Tours of the estate are offered, and include up-close looks at the imposing wooden tanks, the calmness of the aging rooms, and the heat and aroma of the cooperage. Tours last anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes and include tastes of two wines for an 8-Euro fee. To ensure a positive guest experience, advance reservations are required (+34 941 30 60 60).
From vineyard to barrel to bottle, few wineries control every aspect of transforming grapes into world-class wines. Bodegas Muga is one, and the wines provide a true taste of Rioja Alta.