Europe’s first bio-climatic winery has been unveiled near Cenicero in Rioja.

Bodegas Martínez Laorden was built by the Martínez family, long-term grape growers in Rioja, who took part in the EU-backed Optima initiative.

This initiative aims to promote building practices in Rioja that minimise environmental impact through design and energy savings.

Speaking exclusively to decanter.com from Rioja, José María Martínez outlined the winery’s eco-friendly credentials, including a semi-buried structure made from local materials, natural ventilation cooling, solar panels used to export energy back into the local grid and a water purification and recycling programme.

‘We’re not re-inventing the wheel here,’ said Martínez. ‘We simply aim to minimise our environmental footprint. Some of this is to do with the big issues, such as integrating the winery into its local environment and re-using the material we excavated in the process.

‘There are also details, such as the choice of rusted iron for the façade, minimal use of paint and designing the pipe work to double up as handrails on catwalks.’

Martínez said the winery performed well in terms of water and energy conservation. ‘Our photovoltaic panels have a generation capacity of up to 5 kilowatt-hours, which is then sold back to the energy company and reduces our energy bill by around 35%.’

He added that studies had shown that for every litre of wine produced, 11l of water are used – but that his recycling and purification project had reduced this to six or seven litres.

Despite all this eco-commitment, however, Martínez does not farm organically. ‘I don’t believe in it,’ he admits. ‘I like to keep my feet on the ground; that’s why my winery is how it is. It’s just good logic.’

Written by Peter Richards