What Does It Mean to be a Modern Winery in Rioja?


Nothing is born and instantly becomes a classic. And if it something were born that way, it would be an imitation. Classic means known, renowned, reputable, worthy of imitation, who does not deviate from customary rules and has allowed enough time for this to happen. Everything that is born contributing to novelties or restoring forgotten antiques or has deviated from the customary rules, is modern. Modern means current, new, renovating, relative to the time of its birth.

What I want to say with this preamble is that the classic or modern concepts are in function with the time that has passed since its birth and from the tastes that conjecturally prevail. But not everything can be classified as classic or modern, the majority of what is created is basic and unexceptional.

At the end of the 1980s, there was a new concern revolving around the Spanish wine sector and, of course, in Rioja. A new generation of winegrowers, winemakers, viticulture technicians, wine entrepreneurs were participating in projects consisting of a renewal concept. They applied new ideas, while others learned from older vintners and some took  what they had learned from trips they had taken to other wine regions in the world. But in any case, they were struggling to change things in a area like Rioja, where big wineries were not common.

Some of the projects that came to be during that time, proposed to make wines whose process in the wineries went unnoticed and the character of the climatic vintage and the landscape of the vineyard took on a special role.

They began to value old vines and low yields, to cultivate with time, to look for optimal maturation of each, to harvest in boxes, to use the table of selection, to elaborate separately and above all, to extract everything that the vineyard had given. The French oak, having already been used in previous wineries, was introduced and the malolactic fermentation in barrels began, which implied the very early start of aging and an increase in the proportion of new barrels.

Wines that emerged from this new way of working, were of a deeper and livelier color, with fruitier aromas, of greater structure and minerality and, of course, different than the usual ones at that moment in time. They also differed in price, due to higher costs and increased demand in the market, could be positioned in a much superior range.

For that reason, and to differentiate them from previous ones, the critics, and then the consumers, initially began to call these wines “modern” and the wineries that made them “modern wineries.”

To recoil this advancement, other wineries wanted to sign up and make wines with more body, more color, more wood and at a higher price so they could take advantage of the new niche. But, as always, the market is wise and every wine has shown their true colors causing many of these modern wines to no longer exist today.

Time always puts things in their place, and today some of the wineries that had the modern label during the 1990s are settled in Rioja next to the great brands that have forged their fame since the middle of the 19th Century.

In the case of Bodegas RODA, we remain faithful to a way of understanding wine to help people enjoy it, in which the landscape is seen in a transparent way, with absolute respect to the aging, elegant and fresh wines that can be enjoyed while they are still young and that three decades later still remain delicious.

Today, they say that we are the most classic of the modern. “If they say it, it must be true”, but surely in another three decades they will call us classic, renowned, reputable and worthy of imitation.

Guest Post by Agustín Santolaya

Agustín is the General Director of Bodegas Roda. He belongs to a family of vintners’ and small wine producers. At a very early age, Agustín took charge of his family’s viticultural responsibilities and winemaking for their small production winery. From 1988 to 1990 he pursued his Masters in Viticulture and Oenology and for six years held the title of professor of viticulture at the University of La Rioja. His first experience with Bodegas Roda was as a consultant in February 1992. The owners were so taken with him, he was asked to join the board of Roda in 1994 and four years later accepted the position of General Director of the winery and all its operations.

Discover More

Trade Secrets


Bodegas Available for
Export in the US

Bodegas Ontanon
European Cellars/ Eric Solomon Selections
Fine Estates From Spain
Folio Fine Wine Partners
Frederick Wildman & Sons
Grupo Bodegas Faustino
Marques de Riscal
Ole Imports
Opici Wines
Osborne USA
Palm Bay International
Shaw-Ross International Importers
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
The Artisan Collection
The Drink Collective
Vinamericas Selections LLC
Vineyard Brands, Inc.
W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd.
Winebow (MundoVino, a member of The Winebow Group)
Zamora Americas
220 Imports
A.I. Selections
ARAEX/Spanish Fine Wines
Arborway Imports
Ascent Wines
Assa Imports
Astor Wines
Austral Wine Merchants
Aveniu Brands
Baron Francois
BCG Consulting
Bodega Classica/Vintae
Bodegas Castillo de Mendoza
Bodegas Corral, S.A.
Bodegas Medrano Irazu
Bodega Nivarius
Bodegas Ontanon
Bodegas Pastor Diaz
Bodegas Patrocinio, SCL
Bodegas Riojanas
Bodegas Tobia
Bodegas Valdelana
Bon Vivant Imports
Boutique Wine Collection
Bronco Wine Company
C & P WinesBronco Wine Company
Carolina Wine Brands USA
Casa Ventura Imports, Inc.
Cerda y Llanos
Chartrand Imports
Chateau Armand
Classic Wines
Classical Wines from Spain
Cognac One, LLC
Coleccion International Del Vino USA (CIV USA)
Constellation Wines
Constellation Wines
David Bowler Wine
De Maison Selections
DFV Wines
Dionysos Imports
Divino Imports
Domaine Select
Dreyfus Ashby & Co
Eguren Ugarte
Elite Wines
Emporium Nostrum
ENYE Imports Group
Familia Martinez Bujanda
Felix Solis Avantis
Folio Fine Wine Partners
Folio Wine Partners
Francisco Selections, Inc.
Freixenet USA
Frontier Wine Imports
Garnacha Inc
GECO Global Group USA
Golden State Wine Co.
Grapes of Spain
Grupo Bodegas Olarra
Grupo Principe de Viana
H.A.B. North America
HGC Imports Inc.
Hidalgo Imports
HP Selections
International Wine & Spirits
Janet Kafka
Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd.
La Rioja Alta
Laurel Importers
Lionstone International
Lopez de Haro
Luneau USA, Inc
Maisons Marques & Domaines
Marfa Group
Marques de Murrieta
Michael Skurnik Wines
MJM Imports
Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd.
Murphy Distribution
Natural Wine Co.
New Age Imports
Noble House Wines
North American Organic
P.R.Grisley Co.
Parador Selections
Pernod Ricard USA
Pipeline Distribution
Polaner Selections
Protecom Wines Inc.
Regal Wine Imports
RM Distributors
RM Mabor
Romero & Miller, LLC
Royal Wine Corp.
Serendipity Wines
Signature Imports
SolStar Wines
Spain Wine Collection
Spanish Vines Imports, Inc.
Specialty Cellars
Steve Miles Selection
T Edward Wines
Tempranillo Inc
Terra Nostra Vinos
Testa Wines of the World Ltd.
The House of Burgundy, Inc.
The Marchetti Co./Scoperta Importing Co.
The Spanish Wine Imports
Think Global Wines LLC
Tradewinds Specialty Imports
Tri Vin Imports
United Cellars
United Wineries/MHW
USA Wine West
Vin de Terra Imports, Inc.
Vin Divino
Vinaio Imports, Ltd.
Vinole Wines
Vinos and Gourmet Jose Pastor Selections
Vinos Libres
Vintage Wines
Vision Wine & Spirits, LLC
Well Oiled Company
Wine Associates, Inc.
WineLite Imports
Winesellers, Ltd.