He was born in Barbastro on October 5th, 1967, “because that was where the maternity clinic of the area was located”, but he grew up in Castejón de Sos, a small town to the north within the Ribagorza region, right next to Benasque and the Pyrenees.
His grandfather made wine in the Sobrarbe region. José spent summers there and returned when went harvesting started at the beginning of October. He remembers in his grandparents' house, wine felt like something sacred.
As enology studies were not very accessible at the time, he studied chemical engineering. But as soon as he could José began looking for work in the world of wine.
How were those wines that you remember as a kid from your town?
It was a red wine from a mixture of white and red grapes from traditional vineyards grown next to apricot, peach and almond trees. The grapes were placed whole in the winepress and stepped on without any additional additives (sulfur was not known of at the time). After the wine was pressed the must went to a Foudre, where it remained until Christmas. They were wines with little color, low alcohol content and good acidity due to the altitude of the area.
Do you remember you first job in the world of wine?
It was in Cariñena.I was working as a manager of wine purchases and tracking orders, which gave me the opportunity to get to know Spanish wine map very well and to establish relationships with a lot of people.
You have developed almost all your professional career in Viñas del Vero. Are these types of "well-matched marriages" common in the sector?
I was interested in getting to know the land of where I was from better, and in 1993 I began at what was then Covisa (Cía Vitivinícola Aragonesa, S.A.,) which had just just been created and was making its first wines. Today I'm still here, with more responsibility, but with the same DNA as back then.
In addition, Somontano is small. Most of the people who work here are from the region, which shows that you are most passionate about wines that are from your area.
Could you give us three good reasons to visit Somontano?
The culture, the adventure, and the wine.
What nature related activity to consider essential for anyone visiting Somontano?
Our hiking is quite incredible: guided, with routes and signs, and for all physical abilities. It’s not everyday that you cross a footbridge which dangles over a river below. Regular access to these landscapes and hiking routes have been pushed for so that anyone can enjoy them, not just those reserved for adventure sports.
A dish that you have to try if you are in this region?
It is not a dish, but a dessert. It's the pumpkin pastry from Barbastro. It's a thin and light dough stuffed with pumpkin and I still have not met anyone who does not like it.
That unforgettable moment that your remember associated to wine?
I have two. The first, the day of the opening of Viñas del Vero. I was a 25-year-old kid that had only been in the winery for six weeks andhad to sing in front of 300 guests, among them the president of Aragón as well as other important personalities, such as the Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé from Viñas del Vero. Recently I saw the video of the inauguration and what shocked me the most, was that almost everyone left the place smoking.
The second was in 2017 when we picked up the IWC award, the Oscar of wines, for the Secastilla 2012. Considered the best Spanish red, it was an unforgettable recognition and confirmation of the work we have done and the opportunity to present a terroir that has a lot to say.
If you were to only have two varietals of grapes in your vineyard, what would they be and why?
As I would like to be able to make different wines each year, I would have to choose the two varietals that are guaranteed to always have a harvest and the ability to create a diversity of styles: young wines, aging wines .... They are the chardonnay and the cabernet sauvignon, superior varietals that are always present with their versatility and regularity, which explains very well why they are so widespread in the world.
Could you say what is the best wine you have ever made?
Blecua 2010. Keeping in mind that it is a wine with two years of aging and that is made with the best of the best of the best of the best. It is not only a wine of the vineyard, but also of the winery. It requires a lot of reflection on what to save and what to give up. It is a winemaker´s wine.
Your most difficult harvest?
The 2012 harvest, which demanded our attention to the vineyard like never before. It was 10-12 days ahead of a normal year because when the grapes were about to mature, a very dry and warm southern wind arrived. There were people who were calm and relaxed on the beach, and when they came back they did not have grapes.
The Viñas del Vero that you would give to someone who has never tried it before?
Without a doubt, our gewürztraminer. It is the label that has helped create new followers for the world of wine. The palate, sensual and enveloping, makes it very attractive to those consumers who are not excessively connected with wine.
When you are not drinking Viñas del Vero, your favorite brand or region is ...
I can not opt for a single region or style because what makes this world great is diversity. I am very attracted to what I call “Iberian” wines (because I am also thinking of Portugal); wines that smell like wine and that taste like Iberia. I love visiting areas that I have known for more than 25 years, and where I can still drink a wine that tastes authentic. In the past, it was usual to drink a Rioja because the local wine could not be drunk.
The wine that you would take to a deserted island?
I assume that being an island it would be really hot, so I would take a pink pinot noir that would fulfill many purposes and that not being very alcoholic, would also refresh me. I could drink it at any time of the day and, probably, I could drink it with the fish that I caught from the sea.
What is the best thing the world of wine has given to you?
Apart from being a way of life, the best thing about wine is the passion or the hook it puts in you. It is not only work, but enjoyment. In addition, wine is a vehicular product, which has given me the necessary culture to travel with pride. Today wine is given, enjoyed, shared, uncorked, spoken of - I love how well we receive people from the wine sector in other forums.