Located in the town of Villabuena de Alava, south of the province of Álava, Bodega Luis Cañas is a family winery which, for more than two centuries, has devoted itself to viticulture and winemaking. It is today one of the leading wineries in the Rioja Alavesa region.
One of Rioja Alavesa’s oldest family-owned wineries, four generations have overseen production of these classic wines. The history starts with Luis Cañas father, Carlos Cañas, who sold his wines in bulk, transporting them by mule and cart throughout the region. At that time the wines were cosecheros, young wines produced by carbonic maceration in the Cueva de Los Curas (“Priests Caves), an ancient cellar carved out of the ground that still can be found in the region.
Luis Cañas, born in 1928 and still active at the winery, shifted the focus from selling young bulk wines to producing bottled wines. In 1970 he launched his namesake winery. 1989 marked a new milestone in the winery’s transformation when Juan Luis Cañas, the only son of Mr. Luis Cañas, took over as general manager at age 33 and brought a fresh approach. Juan Luis began to lay the foundation for what would later become a more modernized winery, opened in 1994, and he developed new wines while simultaneously promoting increasingly aged wines. Along the way the reputation of Luis Cañas continued to grow, and the family legacy is sealed as a major producer both in Rioja Alavesa and throughout Spain and the world.
Located in the town of Villabuena de Alava, south of the province of Álava, Luis Cañas lies in the heart of Rioja Alavesa. Sheltered from harsh weather extremes by the Sierra Cantabria Mountains to the north, the hillside vineyards are comprised of nutrient-poor chalky clay soil. What the soil lacks in nutrients is compensated for with small plot cultivation with low yields to produce small firm clusters of berries of excellent quality Almost 900 plots are needed to complete the approximately 400 hectares of estate-owned or cellar-controlled vineyards, some with vines more than 100 years in age.
Almost 60% of the vineyards are older than 30 years. 30% of the vineyards have an average age of 80 years. Almost all are located on steep slopes and terraces.
All of the grapes undergo a manual selection process. Individual grapes destined for reservas and premium wines undergo a second selection based on their weight. Luis Cañas was the first winery in Spain to employ this type of selection process.
The average annual temperature averages between 12.6º and the 13.2º Celsius. There are large fluctuations in the temperature between the morning and the night at harvest time, which is very positive for the quality of the grapes. Average rainfall is around 400 mm. and 600 mm. Vineyards are located between 450 and 600 meters in altitude.
Sustainable farming practices are honored and overseen by a team of specialists in this area. While the winery is not 100% organic, the use of herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and other aggressive or artificial methods are strictly prohibited to preserve the land and the strengthen the vineyard’s immune system naturally. Luis Cañas was the first winery in Spain to obtain the BRC Protocol with AENOR, the ISO 14.000, the ISO 9.002 quality certification, and inaugurated its own waste water treatment plant.
All Luis Cañas wines undergo a double selection process. Grape clusters are first sorted by hand and then examined a second time to ensure only the best are selected. Wines are aged in new French and American oak barrels from among the best cooperages in the world. Cask stock is renewed continuously with an average age of just three years.
Luis Cañas’ caring approach to producing wines that respect the environment and the process also extends to its workers. In 2006, the winery built and opened a facility to house 40 vineyard workers on the property. This initiative received the prestigious 2008 Caring Company Award given by the magazine Dato.