Located in the heart of Valladolid, where the Duero River meets the hilly terrain of the ‘Peña’ mountain, lies the famed wine region of Ribera del Duero. One of five appellations of origin in the province, Ribera del Duero is home to some of the most famous wineries in Spain, including Bodegas Protos, whose origins pioneered the name of Denomination of Origin wine in the area.
Originally founded as a cooperative in 1927 by local winegrowers from Piñafiel, the legendary Ribera del Duero Winery would later become the Ribera del Duero Denomination of Origin. This landmark move paved the way for all local wineries to regulate and protect the quality of their produce. Although historically this area has been producing wine since Roman times, it has undergone a dramatic shift in the last century.
Over the years, Ribera del Duero has transformed from producing quaffable table wine to refining its processes and technology to become a haven synonymous with high-quality grapes and wines. Here, Tempranillo is the priority grape variety under this appellation; however, the regulatory council allows other varieties, such as Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Garnacha Tinta, and, with exclusivity, the Albillo for white wines.
With the Denomination of Origin extending for about 115 kilometres, it’s within the 15km of ‘Golden Mile’ that runs between Peñafiel and Tudela de Duero that you can find the real creme de la creme of Ribera bodegas, with Protos being a figurehead of these highly acclaimed wineries.
Having initially produced red wines with the local variety of Tinto Fino (a variety of grape that is a main ingredient of Rioja and port and grown originally in Spain and Portugal), Protos has endeavoured to evolve over the years, just as its knowledge, technology and investments have. Today, the limited company boasts more than 1,000 hectares of vineyards, four wineries in Ribera and Rueda, and sales of more than five million bottles a year to over 96 countries worldwide. The key to its success — staying faithful to its roots!
Protos comprises more than 250 families bound together by the same original goal of making exceptional wines in an exceptional region. Of the seven current directors, three are descendants of the first founders. It is a business that has been passed from father to son and within families of the same region.
With this dedication and passion in mind, the community behind Protos keeps a close eye on its prized produce by closely studying and monitoring the vineyards for optimum growth and development. They even analyse up to 200 samples a day to monitor ripeness levels to pinpoint the perfect moment to harvest each plot.
As an area that generally experiences hot summers and very little rainfall, the grapevines tend not to need any additional treatment. They produce smaller, more concentrated grapes with high polyphenol levels and intense colour. Combined with the loam-clay-sandy soil, these weather conditions create a distinct terroir that is perfectly and uniquely adapted to produce a complex, bold and expressive wine.
The meticulous process of grape sorting and selection of the finest terroirs — still done manually during the harvest season at the beginning of October — are the critical elements that make Protos such an authentic and respectful winemaker. The fruit is collected and then manually sorted at the selection tables in the winery, first selected by bunch and then by grape. This handpicked double selection process ensures that only the highest quality of grapes make the final cut, which in turn makes for a better wine.
In this pioneering spirit, Protos continues to evolve, adapting their wines with the utmost respect to the land and remaining at the forefront of natural, quality wines made in Spain.
Offering wine tastings and regular guided tours through Protos’ ancient cellar (situated under the Peñafiel castle) and the new winery designed by famous architect Sir Richard Rogers, a trip to Peñafiel is the perfect way to begin a tour of the Ribera del Duero wine route.
Find out more about Bodegas Protos via its website.