Bodegas Villaricca in La Rioja goes up in flames

Video of the Bodegas Villaricca Fire Aftermath

In considering whether you want to own a vineyard, you may want to reconsider this dream or at least amend the architectural plans it a bit. One main reason would be that should it burn down, you have nothing to show for the years, dollars, sweat and hopes you have put into this dream. Owning a winery is not just a station in your life, it is a full time commitment of not only you but those around you, including future generations.  I bring this topic up because just recently Villaricca winery in Rioja Alta burnt to the ground and there was nothing left. While still under investigation, they believe it started due to a live ember in the fireplace after a dinner event. It burnt the winery to the ground and nothing in the winery is salvageable.  This makes you think about how much you could potentially lose after investing so much.

On a positive note, due to way the agricultural system is set up in La Rioja, most vineyards are not located on the same estate as the winery. Had this happened, the acres around the winery would have also been burnt.  In order to create a vineyeard producing quality grapes, it can take up to 4-6 years until you get the right ripeness and complexity out of the grapes. The first few years of growth commonly can result in bitter tasting wine.  In the 2nd year you get 50% production, in the 3rd year you finally get 100% production. However, this does not take into account the procurement of land, the planning and the planting, adding one year.  Not to mention aging of the wine, which depending on the type of wine you make, can take at least a year in the barrel and another in the bottle, adding another 2 years to the 5-7 previous years. 7-9 years is what you are looking at in order to create your most common wine with barrel aging.

In the case of Villaricca winery, they had over 4,000 liters of wine that was lost. This takes into account the 8,000 m3 of the barrel ageing room that was reserved for the RESERVA and other barrel aged wines which can take over 2 years in barrel and another 3 in bottle.

In summary, should you want to own a winery, place all heating, fire and cooking elements in an entirely separate building to avoid this happening to you. My deepest condolences go out to Bodegas Villaricca and all the people who worked there and were a part of this beautiful winery.

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