Q&A with Maria Urrutia Ybarra | Vinos y Viñedos Montenegro

Maria Urrutia Ybarra from Vinos y Viñedos Montenegro belongs to the fifth generation of one of the oldest wineries in La Rioja. With Vinos y Viñedos Montenegro, she seeks to discover new artisanal wines and highlight lesser-known wine regions in Spain.



Tell us about your Family and its history.

The Urrutia family belong to CVNE, Compañia Vinicola de Norte de España, S.A. Our ancestors where the founders of CVNE back in 1879; we are the 5th generation. My brother Victor is the CEO. CVNE is known as a traditional producer of fine wines from Rioja. However, at Montenegro I try to produce wines unconstrained by tradition and free from the middlemen of the wine trade. We are a small team: Ignacio Soto, the winemaker, and myself, but we work closely with each winery, and their teams.


How many smaller wineries do you work with?

We work with eight wineries around Spain. I work together with our winemaker who is responsible for the wine in each winery. I guide him in the process of what we are looking for, the style of the wine, the concept, the market and finally the branding of the wine.


Which Spanish wine regions should wine lovers look out for in the next few years?

Valdeorras is a small region with two different valleys and different soils and climate. Granite and schist, slate and gneiss soils are great for both reds and whites. This makes the region unique and with a great potential.


What Spanish grape varieties do you think deserve more recognition?

Godello, a white variety with personality which produces very diverse wines.


All your wines are suitable for vegans. It this deliberate?

We care about how our wines are produced and want them to reflect the origins and the terroir they come from. For this reason, we work hard with producers who look after their vineyards and avoid the use of pesticides. We also use he best clarifiers during bottling, which normally are vegetarian. We want our wines to be accessible to all our consumers; however, the vegan aspect is not necessarily deliberate but circumstantial. It is the individual wines which drive us.


Are winemaking traditions important to you?

My background and my family have shown me that traditions are important and need to be used correctly. Every grape variety, every plot has its own personality and can behave differently. We adapt to each one and use the best methods. Those methods can be traditional or a combination of tradition and new techniques.


What is your absolute favourite food-wine pairing?

My favourite meal is a Saturday family lunch. Lamb chops, roasted potatoes, and a red wine, which has a balance of fruit and acidity, like Viña Lobera Gran Reserva, DOCa. Rioja (lot 2477).


Among the wines featured by Opimian, which one are you most proud of? And why? 

Via Nova and Medianias, both projects reflect the place where they are produced, and I strongly recommend that everyone visit them when they can. You could never believe vines could grow here.


Describe your philosophy in one word or sentence. 

Open mind!

Until May 3, 2021, order these wines from Vinos y Viñedos Montenegro


Viña Lobera Rosado, DOCa. Rioja, lot 2475  


Vía Nova Mencía, DO Valdeorras, Virgen del Galir, lot 2474


Vallobera Graciano, DOCa. Rioja, Familia San Pedro, Bodegas Vallobera, lot 2455


Vía Nova Godello, DO Valdeorras, Virgen del Galir, lot 2473


Viña Lobera Crianza, DOCa. Rioja, lot 2476


IN Insolente Graciano, DOCa. Rioja, Bodegas D. Mateos, lot 2485