I’ll Drink to That: María José López de Heredia of López de Heredia

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Episode 303 of I’ll Drink to That has been released. It features María José López de Heredia of López de Heredia in the Rioja region of Spain.

Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta was the founder of the López de Heredia winery in Rioja, Spain, and he was also separated from his family by the Spanish Civil War. During that time and others he maintained a lively correspondence by post, writing long letters addressing the conditions at the winery and in the vineyards. These letters are preserved at the winery today, and one of the things María José López de Heredia reveals in this interview is that she reads them all the time. She is Rafael’s great granddaughter, and she runs the López de Heredia winery today. She decided to stay in the family business because she wanted to spend more time with her dad, she admits in this interview, and that just isn’t an answer that you hear a lot in this business. Indeed this is a family story, with children playing games of hide and seek amongst the barrels in the bodega, wine used as a medicine to cure childhood stomachaches, and a unique form of Sunday school. Also there are those letters. They are incredibly detailed, to such an extent that María José can trace the history of various tools used at the winery, when they were introduced and why. And the letters were candid, which is a characteristic that this conversation with María José shares. Animal blood used on the fermenting vats? Sure. Bottle variation for the Gran Reservas? It is a result of how they are assembled. María José is frank and forthright about the history of what her family has done at the winery, a subject that is clearly endlessly fascinating to her, and as she says, for every explanation there is a history.

This episode also includes a Warm Up from Erin about the history of Rioja.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out in iTunes.

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s leading wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine