In 1972, my family bought Finca El Terrerazo. For decades it was simply used as a holiday home and an extensive agricultural and livestock farm.
I spent a good part of my childhood and teenage years surrounded by that landscape. For a while, I left the farm behind. Like so many young people from the highlands of Utiel and Requena, I studied Business Management and Administration and then worked for a few years in different industries, including banking, tableware and -with my father - public construction. In short, I was heading down the serious path of life, but it wasn't really my thing and one day I decided to head off in a different direction.
I think that most things are very simple. Nothing is rocket science. Humans have always felt the need to make a mark. A certain footprint of their life on earth. And there are no deeper and longer-lasting footprints than those left in the ground. Because they mark out a path that others can follow. And that gives a deep meaning to life. A legacy.
And that was the path I decided to take in the mid-1990s. I went back home to Requena and started studying Oenology and Viticulture. At the same time, I visited the most important wine-growing areas in the world and drank from the fountain of knowledge, being taken aback at seeing how some of the best wines are made with local grapes. With the grapes native to each region. And that's when I realised what the secret was. And I had it within reach. But it was never going to be an easy journey. To the bafflement of the local community, I decided to introduce a series of unprecedented and revolutionary ideas to winemaking in the region, such as ordering a soil map or using plant-based covers to restore the soil's natural balance. Without forgetting the fact that I eschewed the idea of the number of kilos per hectare to focus on the leaf area of each vineyard. As if a single vine were an entire plot. I implemented green harvesting to regulate and select the bunches, with the first vintages individually influencing all the bunches that end up in our wines. But I went even further. I decided to embark upon an uncertain adventure like few others had done. The idea wasn't to turn Mustiguillo into a thriving Altiplano winery, but to turn it into a benchmark winery. A path that I took alone and against the flow. Because back in the mid-1990s, practically nobody believed in a grape considered anonymous.
At first, the journey was full of doubts and hesitations. I was close to throwing in the towel. It took me four years to start selling the first wine, much to the despair and disbelief of my inner circle. Until a small miracle happened. A miracle made of self-love, chance, talent and lots of hard work. I managed to get the vintage I was looking for. And, above all, I managed to sell it to an expert North American distributor and a Swiss one in equal parts, at the price that justified all the hard work invested up to then: it was in 2003 when the bottle of the first Quincha Corral was sold. And that was the turning point for Bodega Mustiguillo.
The 2000 vintage was the commercial launch of Mustiguillo with two wines: Quincha Corral and Finca Terrerazo. In 2003, Bodegas Mustiguillo was awarded the IGP Vino de la Tierra El Terrerazo accolade. It was the first finca in Spain to obtain a Protected Geographical Indication within a Denomination of Origin. And in 2004, the critic Robert Parker scored the Quincha Corral 2001 a total of ninety-five points. Never before had a Bobal wine secured such a high score. In 2007, we were given the CAE (Organic Agriculture Certificate) certificate for our wines. And in 2010, Mustiguillo gained the most sought-after distinction. Our terroir was rated unique and exceptional thanks to its location, altitude, types of soil, climate, siting, surroundings and - ultimately - its natural setting, securing PDO Pago El Terrerazo (Protected Designation of Origin), the first single-estate wine from the Mediterranean.
A few steps full of passion, dedication, commitment and simplicity, which has helped Mustiguillo wines feature on the wine lists at the world's top restaurants. How did this happen? With hard work. Lots of hard work. But with a job done under certain parameters; winemaking lived as a vocation founded on knowledge, which has earned our wines major recognition and prestige within the industry, from my fellow winemakers, sommeliers and specialised critics alike.
Our daily routine varies depending on the time of year. In this sense, we're very exposed to weather conditions. But we try to plan as much as possible and keep a close eye on the vines. We perform prevention and precision agriculture and for certain jobs such as pruning, vine training or green harvesting. And we take moon phases into account, so having a defined calendar is key to making the most of our resources.
Ever since the outset, we've loved the idea of joining CrowdFarming as we have a very similar way of understanding and working crops. It adds value to farmers and consumers. It's a way of telling and conveying our project and our concerns to the end consumer. How we work, with as little water as possible, creating life in the soil, our plastic-free philosophy, and so on. As a result, we know that there's direct communication between us and the consumer.