The Escudero family has been making wine and growing grapes for generations in the rugged, semi-desert foothills around Grávalos in the southwestern corner of the Rioja Baja region. Over the last 15 years or so, the Escudero brothers led by Bordeaux-trained winemaker Amador have transformed the small family "bodega" into a major Rioja wine producer. The changes have come gradually and in addition to the new winery at Pradejón (near Calahorra) they have greatly extended vineyard acreage, a very successful "cava" sparkling wine venture (one of the few non-Catalonian cava makers), and extensive Chardonnay plantings (disallowed in Rioja, but OK for cava). Amador, now in his mid-forties, is not one to shy away from taking risks to make things happen. The Vinsacro (formerly Valsacro) project is an excellent case in point.
Operating from the small Grávalos facility, Amador realized that some of his vineyards offered the potential to do something better (and different). These old vineyards, some over 100 years planted in the old fashioned "vidau" style offered the kind of raw material needed to make a modern-style premium wine - a Rioja with a difference. ["Vidau" is a mixed variety vineyard - a field blend ready to pick.] The vineyards include Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano & Garnacha. A typical Valsacro is about 40% "vidau" (majority is Garnacha with Tempranillo & Garnacha), 50% Tempranillo from 28 year old vines and 10% Mazuela (Carignan) from 25 year old vines.