Finca Villacreces: Uncorking the Legacy of Spanish Winemaking in ‘The Golden Mile’

This post was last updated on June 27th, 2024 at 10:56 pm

From vine to glass, Grupo Artevino’s commitment to quality and sustainability shine through in its Ribera del Duero estate

Now, I’m not going to pretend I know the ins and outs and A-Zs of wine appreciation; far from it. While I have taken a number of courses, here and there, and have a decent working knowledge of it—more than your average wino but less than your educated oenophile—there’s so much more to the world of wine that I have yet to discover.

But, I do know good wine when I see, sniff, and savor it. And let me tell you, the wines of Spanish winemakers, Artevino Family Wineries, are truly something special. Recently, I had the pleasure of not only sampling three of the finest vintages from their Finca Villacreces estate in Spain’s Ribera del Duero, an area especially renowned for its luscious tempranillo grape variety, but also of meeting and chatting with the winery’s owner and CEO, Lalo Antón, son of Artevino’s founder. Lalo is every bit engaging; as an ambassador of the estate, sure, but more importantly, as a human being. My conversation with him was enriching, in so many aspects.

Organized by, Philippine Wine Merchants, the country’s premier wines and spirits distributors, the Finca Villacreces Wine Walkabout was held at Ralph’s Wines & Spirits Mitsukoshi Mall—and what a wonderful (or should I say, “wine”-derful?) night it turned out to be.

Lalo Antón, owner and CEO of Artevino Family Wineries, and Raymond Joseph, Director of Sales and Marketing at PWM; photo courtesy of PWM

A delicious legacy of Spanish gastronomy and winemaking

Grupo Artevino, founded by the Antón family and led by Lalo Antón and his brothers, is a prominent force in the Spanish wine industry. Originating in Rioja in 1987, with Gonzalo Antón at the helm, Artevino has expanded to include several distinguished wineries across Spain. Among their notable estates are Bodegas Izadi in Rioja Alavesa, Bodegas Orben in Rioja Alta, Bodegas Vetus in Toro, and Finca Villacreces in Ribera del Duero. Each winery under Grupo Artevino’s umbrella reflects the family’s dedication to quality winemaking, blending tradition with innovation to produce wines that showcase the distinct terroir of each region.

Lalo Antón holds up a bottle of Nebro, the estate’s super limited vintage. Photo by Angie Duarte

“My grandfather was a grower of grapes; he had vineyards and would usually sell grapes to other wine producers. When my grandfather passed away forty years ago, my father, who was coming from a very successful gastronomy business, with several Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain, took over,” Lalo shared, as I spoke with him at the wine walkabout. “Together with my mother, whose heritage was in winemaking, they combined their knowledge to to start the first wine business for the family. Since then, over the last forty years, we have just kept on growing the business. We have selected the best places to make top wines, in Spain; tonight, we are showcasing one of our estates, Finca Villacreces,” he added.  

Where tradition and innovation meet, sustainably

Of course, Spanish wines — an integral part of the Old World wine narrative — have a reputation to live up to. Finca Villacreces, in the heart of the prestigious Ribera del Duero region, is one brilliant jewel in Grupo Artevino’s crown. Established in the 13th century as a monastery estate of the Cistercian monks and acquired by the Antón family in 2003, Finca Villacreces melds historic charm and rich winemaking traditions with to-the-minute winemaking techniques, all of which pivot on an eco-conscious ethos. The estate’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its organic grape cultivation, embracing environmentally friendly practices without compromising on quality. Further underscoring the group’s commitment to sustainability, all of Artevinos wineries are independently certified with the Sustainable Wineries for Climate Protection program.

“We are an estate winery; as such, we grow our own grapes at the estates, and give importance to the origin of the grapes. We make four different wines, from 100%-certified organic grapes, all of them coming from the estate, at Finca Villacreces. Sustainability is something we have been conscious about for years; long before it became a commercial interest — from our grape growing and winemaking processes, to the energy and water we use, and the materials we use in our labels, bottles, and so much more. We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint by a minimum of 5%, every year, at each of our estates,” Lalo pointed out.

Pouring out a bottle of Pruno, a blend of, primarily, tempranillo with a touch of cabernet sauvignon. Photo courtesy of PWM

Home of “The Golden Mile”

Finca Villacreces’ approach to winemaking honors Ribera del Duero’s reputation as a lauded quality wine region, known for its robust reds crafted from tempranillo grapes, grown in the region’s high-altitude vineyards. For its combination of altitude, climate, and limestone-rich soil (which is sandy, yet with enough clay to trap moisture beneath the surface), the region’s unique terroir results in yields that are typically more limited, but are also higher in quality. While the grapes — known regionally as “perlas” — are also smaller, the skin-to-pulp ratio in the winemaking process results in wines that are more flavor-packed and complex.

“While the soil is sandy, the vines are old and the roots grow very deep, up to the clay parts, where there is enough moisture. We also work with natural ground cover, to keep the moisture, and combine different techniques, in the winemaking process — tradition plus innovation allows us to make the most of the area,” Lalo noted.

Thanks to this distinct terroir, as well as its deeply rooted heritage of winemaking expertise, the Ribera del Duero region has garnered worldwide acclaim for its exceptional red wines. The region boasts what is known as “The Golden Mile,” a stretch of land that is home to some of Spain’s most premium wineries, bodegas, and vineyards.

Three wines from the Finca Villacreces estate: Finca Villacreces, Nebro, Pruno. Photo by Angie Duarte

Raising the Ribera del Duero’s banner

Known for their structured, robust, deep red wines, with intense fruit flavor profiles and elegant tannins, Finca Villacreses proudly raises the Ribera’s banner, with its exceptional vintages. Their wines aren’t just a joy for wine lovers, worldwide; the estate is known as “the makers of wine that Spaniards themselves take pride in and love to drink.”

At the wine walkabout, we sampled three of the estate’s wines. For starters, Lalo and the PWM team uncorked bottles of Pruno, 2020 vintage; a dangerously easy-to-drink blend of, primarily, tempranillo with a touch of cabernet sauvignon. Its deep, black cherry color and more viscous wine legs (ergo, higher sugar content) clues you in on the rich nose of ripe, fruity aromas with well-balanced tannins that make for a smooth sip. Next, something bolder: Finca Villacreces, 2018 vintage, the wine named for the estate. This eponymous wine is almost purplish in color; a full-bodied blend of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, with a hint of merlot. Definitely a favorite, for me! With an expressive bouquet and layers of flavor, this wine opens up very, very nicely, revealing a complex profile of dark berries, spice, and a hint of smoke. Moreover, the Antón family’s long history in gastronomy speaks to the estate’s wine creation: every vintage is made to pair well with food, something that the Finca Villacreces 2018, in particular, achieves to perfection.

Lastly, by way of a surprise, Lalo opened two bottles of the super limited Nebro, 2016 vintage. With only several hundred bottles allocated for worldwide distribution, this pure tempranillo—made from grapes sourced from the estate’s oldest (centuries-old, in fact!) and lowest-yielding vines—is highly sought after. What a treat, and definitely the highlight of the evening, to relish the vibrant yet deep bouquet, with coffee, mocha, and floral hints, and to enjoy the layers of spicy black fruits and plush tannins as they played out on the palate. Superb!

Scenes from the wine walkabout at Ralph’s Mitsukoshi. Photo collage courtesy of PWM

Vibrantly evolving, from vintage to vintage

Ultimately, the wines from Finca Villacreces take you on a joyful journey into the essence of Spanish winemaking. Whether exploring the nuanced flavors or savoring the bold expressions of the estate’s wines, each bottle tells a story of tradition, innovation, and a deep connection to the land. As Grupo Artevino continues to evolve, guided by the Antón family’s passion and expertise, wine enthusiasts can anticipate new dimensions of Spanish wine excellence, firmly founded on a deep love and respect for vine and vision, alike.