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Contino ‘founding father’ Jose Madrazo dies

Jose Madrazo, one of Rioja's biggest proponents for more than 40 years and co-founder of the Contino winery, has died.

Spanish wine group CVNE, or ‘Cune’, and which owns Contino (pictured), announced Jose Madrazo’s death this week.

Born in 1935, Jose Madrazo Real de Asua was a captain of merchant ships, and mainly oil tankers, until the end of the 1960s. But, he left his job to be closer to home following the birth of his third child.

It was a move that would inspire his professional legacy. After joining Cune, where his cousin Luis Vallejo was chief executive, he became general manager of the Rioja wine company, which was founded in 1879.

In 1973, Madrazo and some other leading Cune figures founded Vinedos del Contino in the Alavesa region of Rioja.

‘He was its driving force for many years,’ said Maria Urrutia Ybarra, a Cune director and part of the fifth generation of the wine firm’s founding family.

Madrazo subsequently presided over Contino during a transformational period for Rioja in terms of investment and international exposure. He was general manager until 1999 and retired completely in 2001.

Contino was unusual in Rioja because it was a single estate winery, sourcing grapes from its own 62 hectares of vineyards.

‘Jose knew the terroir as he bought the grapes for Cune and he realised the potential they had to be able to produce a single vineyard wine,’ said Urrutia Ybarra. ‘40 year later, Contino has strong recognition worldwide.’

Madrazo’s son, Jesus de Madrazo, is currently the winemaker at Contino.

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