Cebreros: could this be Spain’s next big thing?

I have nothing to sell you... just yet.

But when you come across something this exciting, it's hard to keep it under wraps.

I was back hunting in Spain last week... the destination was Cebreros, high up in the Gredos mountains, west of Madrid.

This place has a real Priorat-in-the-90s feel about it. Which means it was overlooked for decades and almost lost, until a small group of fiercely determined winemakers made it their life's mission to put Cebreros back on the map.

Mark my words - this place will be home to some of Spain's most expensive wines in a few years' time.

Cebreros is home to Spain's best Garnacha. Garnacha (or Grenache) is a special red grape - you'll find amazing (and expensive) examples in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Priorat and the Barossa.

The high altitude here, along with its sandy granite soils and patchwork of beautiful old vineyards, makes Garnacha with intense flavour, but also a bit more delicacy than these other places.

Think Burgundian elegance and finesse, with Spanish sunshine, and now we're talking.

Enter Bárbara Requejo, via a tip-off from a trusted Spanish friend. Born in nearby Valladolid, she learned how to make wine from the best.

Stints in Bordeaux (at Château Haut-Brion), Champagne, Sonoma and Central Otago gave her first-hand experience of luxury winemaking.

Then after making wine for Soto Manrique, one of Cebreros' leading producers, Bárbara and partner Guzmán Sánchez de la Parra decided to go it alone with their first vintage in 2020.

It's a powerful partnership... Bárbara is the gifted winemaker. Guzmán is the talented chef, who owns the village restaurant called La Querencia.

It's the best restaurant around these parts, and doubles up as a hub for the vibrant community of winemakers in the region.

No shortage of good food and wine in that relationship!

I met Bárbara in Villanueva de Ávila on a misty Monday morning in November.

Our first stop is Guzmán's uncle's garage in the village, where the wines are made. It's a regular enough sized garage - but it's crammed with tanks and vessels full of fermenting grape juice.

It's the calm after the storm of harvest... the smell in here is amazing.

We then go into the barrel room next door - and taste from each one. From crisp, refreshing rosé to perfumed and expressive reds, it's all incredible stuff.

Then it's time to take in the vineyards. This is a remote, unforgiving place to make wine. And breathtakingly beautiful.

The mountainous landscape is dotted with tiny plots of old Garnacha vines. And not a soul is to be seen (bar the odd goat).

The last stop is Bárbara and Guzmán's boldest venture yet. A new vineyard, planted in April of this year - so that they can meet growing demand, while maintaining quality.

The vineyard will be productive in 4-5 years. It's a long game they're playing here.

This is all hungry work - it's lunch time. We head back to La Querencia.

While Guzmán serves up the most delicious mountain food, we taste through Bárbara's full range of wines.

Her Los Arroyuelos Garnacha - a beautifully balanced blend of different plots along the Alto Alberche valley, it has the juicy fruit of a good Côtes du Rhône with the classic Cebreros structure and freshness.

Bárbara's village wine from Villanueva, Las Ánimas, is earthy, savoury and highly aromatic. Very Burgundian in style - just a gorgeous expression of the Garnacha grape.

And another village wine, Pelito Lindo, is more concentrated and powerful. Stunning with Guzmán's pièce de résistance, a big chunk of local 10 year-old dairy cow, served faintly mooing.

The more we talk, the more I realise Bárbara is every bit the daring entrepreneur as she is talented winemaker.

Because making wine around here isn't for the faint hearted. You have extreme weather, hard physical work, paperwork, unforgiving terrain, more paperwork, and a market that values the big names of Rioja and Ribera del Duero above anything else.

So you need an extra gear to stick at it.

I now understand what makes Bárbara tick.

Bárbara believes in the enormous potential of Cebreros. And for her, the only way for Cebreros to fulfil its potential is for more people to try and buy the wines.

At the moment she makes just 10,000 bottles per year. That might sound like a lot, but it's a piddly amount for an ambitious winemaker like Bárbara. And she has no problem selling it all.

So she's gradually increasing her production, while keeping the quality high, to fulfil that important mission.

You get the strong impression that this is very much part of the deal of making wine from this land.

And I find that very inspiring.

Now if only we could get our hands on some wine... I met Bárbara in the nick of time, and secured her last 300 bottles of Las Arroyuelos Garnacha 2021. And there'll be a tiny amount of the other two wines available.

They'll be ready to ship early next year, but there won't be enough to go around everyone. This time anyway.

Meeting Bárbara is a reminder of why I started this business.

There are so many great authentic wines out there, made by real people with the highest standards and values.

And if I can make them more accessible and affordable through WineSpark, and get them to discerning wine drinkers like you, then I've done my job.

You already have direct access to some of Spain's hottest young talents - César Márquez, Ana Carazo, Iria Otero and more... you can now add Bárbara to that list. And in the meantime, you can browse our ever-growing list of Spanish wines here.


I visited Pete in July a few months ago in Cebreros ( a family friend), just in time to see the flowering of his gnarly old vines; since picked and currently fermenting! Watch out for" Split Rock " wine "By Pete Irvine ", sure to be something " special"!

Warren Patterson November 15, 2023

Keep an eye out for Pete Irvine(son). He has a wide range of wine making experience in NZ, Australia, France, Germany, Spain & is particularly keen to undertake organic wine making in the Cebreros area where he is located.

Stuart April 15, 2023

Your way with words pulled me in, I pre ordered.

John Mc Namara April 15, 2023

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published