Spanish winery Vega Sicilia has appointed a new technical director after confirming that Javier Ausas was to leave the group.

Ribera del Duero based Vega Sicilia said this week that its new technical director will be Gonzalo Iturriaga de Juan.

He previously spent several years as technical director for Bodegas Habla in Extremadura and was most recently an export sales director for winemaking equipment supplier Lamothe-Abiet.

The move comes a week after Vega Sicilia’s owner, Pablo Alvarez, confirmed to Decanter.com that Javier Ausas would depart after 17 years as technical director for the Spanish wine group’s wineries across Spain.

Alvarez said the decision to part ways was amicable and he wished Ausas well for the future. It was not clear what Ausas was going on to do.

This week, Alvarez was quoted by Spanish press as saying the change marked a ‘new phase’ for Vega Sicilia, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year.

Vega Sicilia is known colloquially as Spain’s ‘first growth’ and was bought by the Alvarez family in 1982.

Gonzalo Iturriaga will take the reins at Vega Sicilia during a promising time for Spanish wine. Decanter contributor and Spain specialist Sarah Jane Evans MW has said Spanish wines are some of the most exiciting in the world at the moment.