In Olabarri Vineyard we want you to meet us, to meet our team and the tradition that emerges from a family business that has been developing its passion for wines for almost 40 years. That is why we interview Luis Olabarri and delve into his passions, his dreams, his childhood and his relationship with wine.
Luis Olabarri, passionate about the wine world
Who is Luis?
A family person, husband and father of three sons. He is also the son of the business man Pablo and Carmen. He has seven brothers and sisters. He is a good friend to his friends and a life, nature and sports enthusiast. Although he started to work since he was very young in the metal industry and he is counselor in other companies, he entered the winemaking business taking over the winery when he became 35 years old.
Where does this passion for making wine come from?
Since 1958, my family has spent long seasons in the so-called Rioja wine capital-Haro, developing good relationships with the business men from the wine business and generating a passion that started in my father Pablo and was later extended to the whole family. Here in 1985, we had the chance of beginning our own path in wine with the purchase of a XIX century winery in Anguciana that gathers
all the ideal natural conditions of humidity
and temperature for the ageing of quality wines.
Which are Viña Olabarri key factors to obtain quality in their wines?
We are a small winery, with a limited production and this allows us to select the best wines of the close vine growers without the need of buying big volumes of wine. Later with a careful technique, patience and affection we get to reflect the very essence of this land in high quality wines.
Do you have childhood memories related to wine?
When I was a teenager, my father used to buy every year two barrels of wine from a vine grower from Labastida and my brother Bigarren and I were in charge of cleaning the bottles that he had been keeping throughout the whole year to be able to bottle the wine from these barrels. We also had to boil the corks so that they were perfectly sanitized before bottling.
During those years, our family had a very good relationship with Isaac and Manolo Muga and with Pedro López Heredia, which are undoubtedly big references in the wine business.
Viña Olabarri is a small family company that
has obtained prestigious international awards as Decanter 2018 Best Wine in Show over £15 for your Bikandi Reserva. Whatdoes a family business have to do to achieve such a relevant recognition?
It is crucial to make the best wine selection and afterwards a long ageing in barrel and even longer ageing in bottle.
Which personal efforts have entailed to be in charge of the winery practically your whole adult life?
I am lucky because making wine has granted me more satisfaction than any other professional challenge. Every little success makes you forget all those bad moments and extra efforts until you reach them.
What makes Viña Olabarri different to other wineries from Rioja?
Thanks to our size, we can make a very good selection of wines. Besides, we add a lot of care to each of the wine processes, from the picking of the grapes to the ageing and racking in the different types of barrels we use.
The future and the current situation
– What does 2020 has implied for your winery?
It has been a year of many efforts as for everybody, above all in the expansion of traditional sale channels to others as e-commerce. Our entire team has lived up to what the situation has demanded of us, and we continue to do so.
Every little success makes you forget all those
bad times and extra efforts until reaching them.
How do you see the future of the sector?
The quality wine sector has a great future, in the market at a national and especially international level.
Do you see a generational change at the head of the business?
I am sure that it will continue to be a family winery, with the simple objective of doing things right.
A wine for every moment
– Bikandi Ecological Crianza is a very special wine, with a strong bet on ecological vines which has become very successful in Europe. How did the idea of launching this category of wine start up?
We started to buy and focus on ecological wines in 2008, acquiring them from a vine grower from Cenicero. We followed up all processes, from the vine selection to the fermentation in tanks. At the beginning they were launched to the market without the organic wine logo on the label but since 2011 we started to label it as organic wine. We sold then 35.000 bottles but we are currently selling around 120.000 bottles a year.
Do you think that there is a wine for each occasion?
Of course. On the one hand, there are wines ideal for every day consumption, which are lighter as a Crianza or a Reserva and on the other, we have full-bodied wines for special occasions as a Gran Reserva.
Which wines do you usually drink home?
For the àpero or for having a glass of wine before lunch, our Crianza is the perfect choice. During lunch we normally have Viña Olabarri Reserva but at special celebrations we have Viña Olabarri Gran Reserva or Bikandi Reserva.
Wines are like children, butwhich is the wine you fondly remember and why?
The Reserva and Gran Reserva vintage 1985, because they were the first wines of these characteristics aged in our cellars.
Finally, Luis, if you had not been a winemaker, you would have been a… An aviation pilot, no doubt.
That has been my frustrated dream (he smiles).
If you want to know other questions, visit our instagram profile where Luis Olabarri has answered other questions from our followers.