Spanish wine group Codorniu has embarked on a major expansion in Rioja through its majority-owned subsidiary, Bodegas Bilbainas, according to its chief executive, Javier Pages.

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Vineyards in Rioja, near to Haro. Image credit: Getty / AFP / Cesar Manso

The investment involves the acquisition of 30 hectares of land in Haro in Rioja Alta, adjacent to the Bodegas Bilbainas vineyard, Pages told Decanter.com in an interview. Bodegas Bilbainas produces three Rioja wines: Vina Pomal, La Vicalanda and Vina Zaco.

Pages said the 30 hectares of additional terrain would be mainly used to produce Tempranillo, but also Garnacha and Graciano grape varieties.

The current Bilbainas vineyard has 250 hectares of vines grown in a mild, Atlantic climate near the Ebro River and two mountain ranges.

‘In terms of acquisitions, this will be the most important one this year,’ Pages said. ‘[Bodegas Bilbainas] does very well for us,’ he said.

For the six months to the end of December 2014, Bilbainas increased sales by 13.5% on the same period of 2013, to 8.4m euros ($9.2m) from 7.4m euros.

And in January this year, Codorniu announced it had increased its shared ownership of Bodegas Bilbainas to 93% with the acquisition of Kutxabank’s 5.92% share in the vineyard.

Pages denied that Codorniu would invest more in still wine than in Cava in the coming years, but he added that investments in Cava generally take longer to generate satisfactory returns.

Established in 1551, Codorniu has vineyards in Spain, California and Argentina. Historically, the group has only used its name for marketing Cava, but it recently launched ‘Vinas de Anna’, which is its first still wine to have the Codorniu name printed on the bottle.

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Written by Barnaby Eales