Victoria Torres Pecis
- La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain
Victoria Torres Pecis is now the sole owner and caretaker of her family’s centenarian winery in La Palma, Canary Islands. La Palma is in the northern part of the archipelago, further west into the Atlantic from the African continent. Like the other islands that form the archipelago, the soils are volcanic, the terrain rugged and uneven, and climactic conditions are extreme. Temperatures soar to volcanic heights, and the vineyards are constantly whipped by Atlantic winds.
Since her father’s death in 2015, Vicky has been working alone against the elements and the picón—the dark ashy sand that covers the soil—where most of her vines are grown. “I am like the Listán Blanco”, she says, “very resistant.” She has to be. Much of her work is that of restoration: first finding available vineyards and convincing growers to let her work their vines, and then rescuing dying plants and improving the general health of the plots. She farms organically, and the work is all manual.
Her quest for purity takes her from the vineyards she owns in Llanos Negros (a plot in the southwest side of the island planted with Malvasía Aromática, Sabro, and a bit of Negramoll) all the way to the northern side of the Island, in Tinizara, where the landscape changes radicall,y with lush vegetation and incredible vistas above the sea of clouds. Here she works vineyards at more than 1300m elevation, planted with Negramoll, a variety she has mastered. Another site, a bleak-looking old vineyard planted on picón called “Las Machuqueras” on the southern slopes of the San Antonio volcano, gives her Negramoll, Diego (aka Bujariego aka Vijariego Blanco), and Listán Blanco. This plot has been with the family for generations, and due to her work it is (unofficially) recognized as the Islands most prized lieu-dit. In total she works 4.7 hectares: 2 of them are her property, and the rest she rents. She also purchases fruit from growers she works with throughout the year.
Her bodega is in Fuencaliente, on the southern tip of the La Palma. It was there that she first learned her craft by watching her father use an old lagar to press grapes and vinify his wines in chestnut barrels. Not much has changed since the early days: the winery is small and contains a few stainless steel tanks and old French and American oak, as well as the chestnut barrels which are still in use. All fermentation is done with native yeasts, and temperatures are not controlled. Her wines have a stunning purity and vibrancy, achieved through her patient, meticulous work.