1. The Martinez Bujanda family
6.30am: Out at the region's great 'Cru'; Valpiedra estate in the cold, grey dawn. Carlos and I crouched shivering in the cobblestones re-shooting the much-used old photo we took years ago when we were younger … had more hair ... and the sun was out! Families are not always harmony. Carlos and sister Pilar split with brother Jesus and shared out their vineyards. Sad, but the intense sibling rivalry is giving us quite amazing wines!
2. The Chavarri Family
The Chavarri girls; blonde Ruth and dark Maria run Pagos de Tahola and a few other businesses. Basques ... They ARE Basques. Don't wear basques ... maybe? Anyway the Puerto de la Barca vineyards been in the family for six generations – north of the Ebro river and thus in Pays Basque Rioja. Not Spanish. Very 'family'. Grandfather they adore. Parents still too busy. Very 'village' – everyone shouts hello. Get a tour of the church.
3. The Murúa family
Make Baron de Barbón. Julien, suddenly widowed just weeks ago is clearly struggling but son Xavier and his sisters support wonderfully. Vineyard tour checking out good sites and soils then the guys at the bodega grill some cutlets over vine embers. Distracts Julien. Much needed laughter. His 19,000 barrels must occupy him too. This is a quiet man who was the Bujanda's winemaker until he went on his own to huge success.
Evening Logrono, meet up with Henry and Jean-Marc down from Bordeaux. And friends. Street bar. Rowdy. Maïtena Barrero passes. And stays for tapas. Her father, Tony first introduced me to Spain long, long ago. He and Mercedes are both well in retirement. Will be up to Le Chai for the Summer party.
Ah! These families! Good wine couldn't exist without them.