Castile and León, Spain
Ismael Gozalo founded his winery in 1998 in the village of Nieva, northern Spain. A Verdejo mastermind, he is a passionate winemaker who works with ancient vines tended to by four generations of winegrowers before him.
The sandy soils of this area protected the roots from the phylloxera plague when it swept the country in the late 19th century, preserving these vines of 140–280 years old. After phylloxera, most vineyards in Europe were grafted onto American rootstock, due to its natural resistance to these microscopic insects.
Not only is Ismael unusual in a region of intensive farming, but he is also working with vines that have only been 'head-trained' (trained from above the ground) with zero disturbance to their roots. These vines have never received chemical treatment.
The grapes grow at an altitude of 900 metres, 85% of which are the native Veredejo. The wines are made in the converted underground cellar of a 11th century monastery, using everything from amphorae to glass demijohns, and stainless steel to old oak barrels.