- Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Juan Jesus is a proud native of Tenerife and the fourth generation of growers in the island. During the twenty-five years that he’s overseen Bodegas Viñátigo, he has considerably increased its holdings, planting varieties that he and his team recuperated. During these years he has also juggled the classes he teaches as a professor of viticulture and enology at the Ciclo Superior de Vitivinicultura. Juan Jesus and his wife Elena Batista – who has helped along the way, dealing in all aspects of production, from the vineyard to the cellar – have worked closely with Fernando Zamora from the famous Rovira I Virgili Universtiy in Tarragona, to study, catalog, preserve, and vinify imperiled indigenous grape varieties.
Varieties such as Baboso Negro and Vijariego Negro are known to us now by these names mainly because of the work of this duo who identified more than eighty different varieties in the Canary Islands. They recovered those varieties from the island of El Pinar and have since propagated them in Tenerife.
Now however, the new generation slowly started taking over, and his son Jorge Mendez, who studied viticulture in Madrid is in charge of the farming. While the work in the vineyard and winery has always been sustainable, now with Jorge all of Viñátigo’s holdings are farmed organically, and many are being treated biodynamically. Another addition to the team has been Juan Jesus’ daughter, Celia Mendez, who is in charge of marketing and other business aspects such as educational work and sales. The family works collaboratively, constantly exchanging ideas and viewpoints.
The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented using indigenous yeasts. Grapes go through two triages, first in the fields and then again in the winery. Minimal sulfur is used in the winery and no synthetic materials are used in the winemaking.