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Santiago Ruiz, A Rias Baixas Winery

Santiago Ruiz

Earlier this spring, we attended an Albariño wine tasting, with the focus on Albariño wines from the Rias Baixas region of Spain.

The Santiago Ruiz 2015 was a blend of Albariño, Loureiro, Treinadora, Modelo and Caiño Blanco. The wine was dark yellow color with a gold hue. The aroma was of tropical fruits and blossoms. The taste included notes of peach, blossoms and a hint of pineapple. It was a medium-bodied wine. The finish was very crisp with citrus notes. This 12.5% alcohol wine retails for $20.

An explanation of the Santiago Ruiz’s wine label is written on the label, “Santiago Ruiz daughter´s, Isabel, was celebrating her wedding at the winery- house. She drew a little map to help the guests finding the right way and as soon as Santiago Ruiz saw it, he added his name to the map and decided on that inimitable drawing to be the final label. The text on the label is his own handwriting.”

Santiago Ruiz follows in the historic family footsteps of his grandfather who in 1860 started a winery. According to the Santiago Ruiz website, Santiago’s grandfather “was one of the first to produce and bottle wines in Galacia.” Today Santiago’s daughter, Rosa Ruiz, continues her father’s philosophy at the winery.

The 38 hectares (94 acres) of vineyards are located in the O Rosal region and are influenced by the Miño River and the Atlantic Ocean. At harvest time, grapes are harvested by hand. One of the important grapes in the vineyards is the Albariño. Santiago  Ruiz is acknowledged to have recognized the importance of the Albariño grape and other Spanish grape varieties for winemaking.

In an online interview, Luisa Freire, winemaker at Santiago Ruiz, responded to our numerous questions.

1. What are your most enjoyable aspects of winemaking?

I enjoy all the process. Every step has its delight. From harvesting, which is the last cycle of the vineyard but the first of the wine, to bottling, which is the conclusion of a whole year of work. The magic moment is harvesting, though. Because every year is different. The climate conditions are never the same, the vineyard performance either. Each and every year you hope to have the best harvesting to make a memorable wine.

2. How and when did your wine journey begin?

It started late. After 10 years working on the soft drinks industry, I went back to college to get my PhD. I focused on microbiology and specifically on wine. I got trapped in the magic of the wine world.

3. Why did you decide to start making wine?

The more I studied about wine the more I got attracted to the possibility of “playing” with it. Fortuity or destiny took me to a course where I met someone that owned a small vineyard. In 1994 I made my first wine with his first 1,750 pounds of grapes. At that moment, I decided that was what I wanted to do for living… and here I am!

4. How many hectares of grapes are you growing? Which varieties are you growing?

We own 84 acres and control another 15 acres from external winegrowers. We grow Albariño, Loureiro Blanco (both needed to make Rosal),  Treixadura, Godello and Caiño Blanco.

5. What do you wish you knew when you started making wine that you now know?

If I had known that I was going to enjoy this world that much, I’d have started before. The most important learning is that we work with a living being, so every year is different and the grapes will decide how our work will be during that year.

6. To what do you contribute your success as a winemaker?

My success is the success of the wine. I enjoy my job and making the grape express its full potential. At Santiago Ruiz the team works hard to get a better wine every year.

7. Albariño is a very food friendly wine. What types of foods do you like to pair with Albariño wine?

There are Rias Baixas wines for every moment and food. There are lighter fresher ones that pair perfectly with the fish and seafood from the rías; and there are full-bodied ones, like Santiago Ruiz, that can pair with Asian cuisine, white meats, pates, and a wide range of cheeses, from Galician tetilla cheese to semi-cured cheeses.

Albariño is becoming a go to white wine for us.




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