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Zorzal, meaning “wood thrush,” is the brainchild of Antonio Sanz. Sanz had been in the wine industry for his entire life and founded his own bodega in 1989 in Navarra. His three children, who worked alongside him through the years, have now taken over.
Thirty years ago, the situation in Navarra was very different than it is today; wines were mostly made by cooperatives, who paid growers by the kilogram for their fruit. Bush Garnacha vines did not produce as much fruit as other varieties, and French varieties became very fashionable, so the old Garnacha vineyards were abandoned. In 1998, Mikel Sanz, then an agricultural engineering student, and viticulturist Rafael Reverte came across the centenary Garnacha vineyards that, despite having been neglected, still showed great potential. They began the laborious work of refurbishing the vines without the use of herbicides or pesticides, working the soils and treating them with organic compost throughout winter and summer and drastically reducing the yields.
Later in 2009, Viña Zorzal was created to showcase the indigenous varieties of Navarra, especially Garnacha, Graciano, Tempranillo and Mazuelo. Viña Zorzal is a family affair; brothers Xabi (Export Manager), Mikel (Vineyard Manager), and Iñaki (Project Manager) oversee all aspects of the estate. All wines are estate bottled, grown organically, and fermented by native yeasts.
Luis Gutierrez of the Wine Advocate visited Zorzal and wrote a glowing article about what he saw there in the June 2017 issue. Read an excerpt here.