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Ribera motorway plans branded ‘vengeful’ by winemakers

Plans are afoot to build a motorway through the heart of some of Spain's most iconic vineyards.

The Spanish government has approved measures to expand the already existing two-lane N122 to four lanes through the vineyards of Ribera del Duero’s Vega Sicilia, Dominio de Pingus and other wineries.

‘It’s a vengeful measure by the current government in opposition to all the wishes of most of the locals,’ Pingus winemaker Peter Sisseck told decanter.com. ‘If this motorway is built, the region will never develop into a fine wine tourism area.’

Opponents of the scheme claim that an alternative proposal – to build a road along the regions northern plateau rather than south, through vineyards along the valley floor – would be less damaging to the environment.

‘If they go ahead with the southern option, bodegas will lose 100 hectares of vineyards (120,000 vines) and a considerable amount of projected tourism dollars,’ said Vega Sicilia export manager Purificación Mancebo.

But not all of the region’s winemakers are against the plan.

Ignacio Arzuaga, sales director of Bodegas Arzuaga Navarro, is in favour of expanding the road through the vineyards, although he feels the specifications must be reviewed more carefully.

‘I think the engineers planning this need to visit here before proceeding further,’ he said. ‘They’re still working with maps from 1991.’

The region’s wine governing body – the Consejo Regulador de Ribera del Duero – remains neutral due to the opposing views of the growers.

But Antonio Castrillo Villamañan, mayor of riverside village Quintanilla de Onesimo, is hopeful that good sense will prevail and the less destructive northern route will be chose. ‘You cannot jeopardise the fauna and the landscape of the valley for the sake of progress,’ he said.

‘Motorways are meant to join big cities,’ he said, ‘not small villages.’

Written by David Furer

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