Pago recalls the terroir, unique place. Fantastic communion with the vineyard and its environment that is Aylés, a winery with wines added to the experience and efforts of its people. The rest is history and this winery has a lot of it. Wines with personality, made with love, respect to their environment, with aromas of nature alive. The desire of a great man became a reality in Aylés: vision, love of wine and the field has paid off. The winery and its wines travel the world with heads held high and a job well done. Cheers!))
|Image from Pago Aylés website|
Interview with Mrs. Inmaculada Ramón Reula, member of the Board of Directors and C.T.O. and Mr. Felix Moreno Valiente, Sales Manager.
|Inmaculada Ramón Reula|
|Félix Moreno Valiente|
C.S. Thank you very much for your invitation and giving me the interview.
I.R. You are welcome.
C.S. How did the project AYLÉS start? It is known that the property was bought in 1992 and it was called Winery “Señorío de Aylés”
I.R. No, the property was just called Aylés. There were not a winery in. This estate has been always called Aylés. We have found documents from XII century and it already has this name: Aylés.
I.R. No, the “Y” means that the origin is old Castilian, nowadays it is seldom used in names. We do not know the origin. There are people in the United States and United Kingdom with Ayles as surname, and also there is an ice shelf in Canada called Ayles. We really liked the name and when the winery was built we decided to call the wine “Aylés”.
C.S. It is curious!
I.R. I would like to know where the name is given. Maybe, I ask at the University to see if they can help me to find out, because it is a very unique name.
F.M. A historian did a study and found documents from S.XII with the name of the estate.
I.R. Yes, he found the name of the estate but not what the name can mean or where it comes from.
C.S. There were Cistercian monks established in this area, wasn’t it?
I.R. Yes, in this area
C.S. Was there a friary established here?
I.R. No, there was not a friary. It was an area influeced by them from a monastery established near here, Monasterio de Rueda. The property already existed as it is today, and also called Aylés. After the monks, it belonged to a noble family for centuries. After them, it belonged to another family until my father bought it in 1992. What it is really curious is that during all these centuries the property has been kept as it is now. It has not been divided in smaller pieces. Aylés is a big property, 3.000 Ha. When my father bought it, it was in a state of neglect, and we had to organize almost everything. My father really enjoyed it because he was in love with field. Nowadays, we are enjoying all the work and time invested in, started by my father and afterwards by all of us. There have been years of a very hard work…
C.S. So, in this 20 years…
I.R. Firstly, a study of use of the property was made, to find out what was the best we could do it. Vine was the one of the firsts choices. This area is a vine area, with a great soil for it, and inmediatly we loved the idea. The first plantations dated from 1995.
C.S. What kind of soil have the property?
I.R. It is clayey-calcareous, as the rest of the area. We made a zoning study of the property and discovered that inside the estate there are some pieces which its soil has a different composition. In fact, there are some pieces where we can plant Pago vines and there are other where we cannot do it. All Aylés property does not have the high standard quality ground composition required to plant Pago vines.
C.S. How do you reach the Pago category?
I.R. After we had been working with the winery for 5 years, my father realized the good potential we had here. What we imagined was coming true. He was told about Vinos de Pago and all the requirements needed. This kind of wine category was only gave in Castilla. He knew that Aylés met virtually all of the requirements. From there, we had to prove it, we had to make a study of grounds and zoning, conducted by agronomists from the Polytechnic University of Madrid. The conclusions drawn from this study were that the estate has its own microclimate and an excellent soil for growing grapes. We have some characteristics that make the property unique.
Another study done by the University of Zaragoza endorsed the uniqueness of the wines Aylés. Both the sensory analysis and chemical analysis of aroma components say that our wines are aromatically special and different from the wines from our environment. Summarizing: from this different and special soil, a different wine is obtained.
C.S. The property is a protected area, isn’t it?
I.R. Yes, it is a protected area of wildlife by the E.U. There is much diversity. They must live here very well, because they don’t go! They really like Aylés. They live so comfortably among grapes ... All this is reflected in the personality of the wine. Its aromas express the variety of wildlife we have around.
My father realized that we fulfilled all the requirements. But the law is not national but dependent on the Regional Government. There were this kind of wines, Vinos de Pago, in Castilla La Mancha, and the rest of Spain had not yet. After doing these studies - zoning simply lasted a year and a half of work! - we asked the application to the Government of Aragon. It was a very hard and long work.
I.R. Because we wanted to be different, because we wanted to have more quality.
C.S. Please explain us what “Vino de Pago” is. It is not known in many countries.
I.R. The definition of Pago: A rural area which has unique characteristics in both its soil and microclimate distinguishing and differentiating it from surrounding sites and whose vineyards produce wines with distinctive and singular qualities”, Besides all these things, you also need to fulfill many duties related to the process of production, processing, quality, bottling ... in the end, all that guarantees the highest quality.
C.S. This happens only in Spain, isn’t it?
I.R. Yes, but it is similar to the French “Chateau”, where the differentiations are in the land. They are different from us.
F.M. In Spain, there are also geografical requirements. It means that to be a “Vino de Pago” the winery has to be inside the vineyard, and this has to be bounded perfectly. A wine cannot be “Vino de Pago” if the winery is right here and the vineyard 15 km. far away; both have to be in the same estate
C.S. Do you still belong to D.O. Cariñena?
F.M. There is a part of the vineyard which production is under D.O. Cariñena.
I.R. Yes, one of the formalities for a wine to be a Vino de Pago is that the vines must have a minimum age; and not all our vineyard currently fulfills it, so we cannot use these vines to produce Vino de Pago but to produce D.O. Cariñena.
F.M. Under my point of view, the easiest and most simple way to explain what Vino de Pago is to the final consumer is “distinction”; our wines are different to any othe wine produced in our environment. This is key point.
I.R. I think that distinction is the most important matter.
F.M. Vino de Pago is as it were an own D.O. There is D.O. Rioja, D.O. Rias Baixas…D.O. Pago Aylés. The distinction means that Aylés is its own D.O.: it is unique and exclusive. And its position in the quality pyramidal system is the highest one.
I.R. We are very few producers who met all the quality and singularity required requirements.
F.M. Compared to the French system, it would be similar to Grand Cru Classe. It is the easiest way to explain what Vino de Pago is to an importer in another country.
C.S. Being “your own D.O.”, do you have external support? A winery which belongs to a D.O. has the support of the group…
I.R. No, in this case we are alone.
C.S. So, it is distinction and exclusivity, but it is also a responsibility.
F.M. That is right, we depend only on us, for better and for worse.
I.R. Yes, and we are the only ones who want that the wine produced were great ... because it is "our wine". It is a self-required level. We are the most interested and responsible to keep our reputation.
C.S. I like the explanation, it is very clear. Which is the oldest vine in the property?
I.R. There are some from 1940s, white Grenache. They were already in the property when my father bought it.
C.S. And, are they in the Vino de Pago fields?
I.R. No, they are not. In fact, there are very few ones and we do not use them. They have a very low yield. My family planted the vineyard in 1995, but in Ayles estate there have been always vines.
C.S. What varieties have you planted?
I.R. Grenache, Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet. These were the first varieties planted in the first 25 Ha. Then, we followed with Chardonnay and Syrah, and we want to plant more. We want to continue planting Grenache. Step by step … we are not in hurry…
C.S. What wine is your best-seller and has had a greater acceptance in the market?
I.R. Aldeya Garnacha.
F.M. This is a trick question. The best sold is the one with a better ratio quality-price, due to the economic situation. The one better accepted…I think that all of them, all different for different consumers and different moments.
C.S. How have you proposed the export? It is a very complicated job right now
I.R. Yes, it is a complex work. Firstly, Aylés exported a little, all was domestic consumption, and now we export almost 70% of the total production. We realized some years ago that due to the economic situation the national market was going to get complicated, and we knew that we should do something: we should change our commercial policy.
C.S. Has the crisis affected the winery? How?
I.R. Of course, like everyone.
C.S. So, you saw the start of the crisis and realized that you must go out to sell, how did you faced it? Sticking all the team?
I.R. Yes, that’s right. All our efforts were focused on exports. We started to go out to other countries. We have to increase the workforce to support the Commercial Department. Going to national and foreign fairs, e.g.: Germany, United Kingdom, Malaysia…to present our wine to the world.
F.M. It has been countercyclical for us. It arrived almost at the same time as the Vino de Pago recognition. We already had the idea that we were going to increase our efforts when the recognition arrives. This crisis did not take away our illusion, on the contrary, the harder the situation was the higher efforts made all of the team, in the whole property - vineyard and winery. We are very confident with this project. It has not been something instantaneous. It is the result of a work lasting 10-15 years. We are still working on it because crisis gave us more strength than negativity.
|Inmaculada Ramón Reula|
C.S. This is a very important point because it is very useful to spread that work without effort has no sense. Make a lot of money in 1 or 2 years and then get retired: it does not exist.
F.M. This project is not accidental.
I.R. We are working on it for 20 years and we start to get the outcome little time ago. There have been many years of stay, keep working and have the conviction to do it. There had been moments thinking: Am I wrong? But, as you know, we are “maños” (people from Aragon are called “maños” and are known as tough people) and we were committed doing something that we think is important. You can have any kind of moment and feeling, but after such a hard work and so long it is very satisfactory reach the level we have got, and we have to keep on working. It does not finish, this is just the beginning, we have a long way to run. There are 15 people working here, and all of us we can live of this project. That's something to consider
C.S. It is a responsibility to give a job to so many people.
I.R. Yes, it is. It is not a big company, with 500 workers, but there are 15 families living from the winery and we hope to be more in a near future.
C.S. And also the environment, it is alive because the winery is here!!!
I.R. Yes, that’s right.
C.S. Which part of your production is for national market?
I.R. Export is arround 65-70%, so national is 30-35%. National market has increased notably during last three years and keeps on growing due to Vino de Pago; years ago our national market was only Zaragoza.
F.M. Yes, you can find our wines in almost 70% of the Spanish market.
C.S. What kind of wines? Pago wines? Any kind of wines?
F.M. Any kind. Our top class is “3 de 3000”. Due to its price it is not a wine for daily consumption. The medium-high range of our production is around 70% of our wines, and Pago wines are among 30-35%. This is our range.
C.S. What is your production, in bottles?
I.R. We produce around 600.000 bottles including 400.000 for export. It always depends on the harvest, and this year it seams it is going to be a great one!
C.S. Is it going to be like the one in 2004?
F.M. It is still too early to say, but it can be like 2004 production or the 2000 production.
C.S. How do you see your future? Do you have long-term plans?
I.R. Our future and our plans must go together. We want to grow up and getting the loyalty of our clients. We have to be known, to be recognized, we have to keep on working with them and they trust us. We are talking about our importers, distributors and consumers: they examine us every day. Our challenge is to keep our relationship a long time and when some body could drink an Aylés wine recognise our stile and quality. If we get this we will be very pleased.
C.S. How many people work on the estate?
I.R. Usually, 15 people, but when it is time for specific tasks, like pruning works; we need to increase the workforce in 20 people to help.
C.S. Do you want to add any message?
I.R. I hope we have been able to transmit the most important message: what Vino de Pago is. People have to recognize it as distinction and quality, and that it has a lot of work behind.
C.S. Is the whole family working in the winery?
I.R. Yes, the whole family work here, and even it would sound kitschy, all of us, we feel as we were a family.
C.S. Yes, I can notice it!
I.R. Among us, we have a very good relationship. We are almost the same age. We have the same personal situations nearly at the same time. We spend every day all day long together. This is the most important point in Aylés, the group of people involved. Working with a good team is very important, it is the best that can happen to you. You have to take care of the vine for they to produce good grapes to get a better wine, but you also have to pay attention to the team of people, you have to trust them. This is great. There could be problems, and if you have a team of reliable people, you can face and solve them easily.
F.M. Yes, this is a luxury. It is priceless!!!
C.S. And this is transmitted to the outside.
F.M. Yes, everything is transmitted, even wine feels it!
I.R. Yes, you can feel it in our wine. If you do not work comfortable, you have temper and you produce a bad wine (laughs) (this sentence in Spanish is a pun: to have temper is, literally to have bad grape, so with bad grapes you produce bad wine)
When I met people who are not comfortable in their job, I feel embarrassed to say I have not this problems, that I am thrilled with my work. I do not live in an unreal world, of course we have problems in our daily work and we also have sleepless nights thinking of them!!!
F.M. And in wine business, you know that you cannot find two equal years…That’s wonderful, you find challenges day by day.
C.S. Thank you very much for the interview. In vino veritas, longae vitae!))
Translated by Lola Torres