1987, Mario Rotllant arrived in the Rioja region determined to fulfil his dream of setting up his own winery. Rotllant had experience in the world of wine and knew some of the most important contacts in the sector. His ambition was clear: to make a unique Rioja, one that was different from all the others. He transmitted his enthusiasm to a team who would become the pillars of the project: Agustín Santolaya, who would take the reins, Isidro Palacios, who would look after the vineyards, and Carlos Diez, who would be responsible for oenology and the winery. They chose Haro, the birthplace of Rioja, to begin their work. They settled in the city’s Estación district and built a winery without equal, taking in both the tradition of the deeply hewn incisions in the native rock and the most advanced technology. Unfortunately, the choice of land proved more difficult. Their idea was to use the production of a single vineyard in the style of the French “chateaux”, but there were no estates to be found which met all the conditions they sought. Finding the right vineyards took long months of analysis, soil study and examination of localities. Finally, 17 different areas of vineyard were selected, all bearing common features: old vines established in poor soils with a proven history of vine growing, each individually capable of producing magnificent wines.
Agustín Santolaya, General Manager of Bodegas RODA and Bodegas LA HORRA, has been chosen Person of the Year 'Fuera de Serie 2014' in the category of Oenology.
In less than a quarter of century has made Bodegas RODA, in La Rioja, an international reference. Santolaya believes that the wine, as the art, must touch and he says that 'the wine becomes the only dynamic way to bottle the time'. He is General Manager of RODA (DOCa Rioja), a successful winery that two years after marketed its first vintage, it was catalogued as a benchmark. Only 18 years later and other projects, the wines of RODA, its brothers of Ribera del Duero (CORIMBO) and also its olive oils (DAURO from the Empordà and AUBOCASSA from Majorca) still occupy the top ten.
Santolaya explains his career: we are a wine-growing family from generations. We made young wine, that is something very traditional in La Rioja, and I began with the age of 16 years. I studied Agricultural Engineering and I had my own wine brand, at the same time I was a teacher and I worked as a consultant of vine-growing. And that was how I came to RODA: I was called as a consultant and I fell in love with the project. Just observing the sensibility of Mario Rotlland (owner of the winery), saying he had no hurry, but he wanted to make a wine of the great, when all businessmen demanded a positive exploitation in four years. And I stayed here.