Guimaro: The Rebel Winemaker of Galicia, Spain, on the River’s Spine

Guimaro: The Rebel Winemaker of Galicia, Spain, on the River’s Spine

Sep 07, 2021Jason Zuliani

Until the early 1990s the Rodriguez family made just enough wine to supply a few local cantinas and to keep the family from going thirsty. Pedro Rodriguez’s grandfather was nicknamed Guimaro: “Rebel” in Galician. He’s no doubt proud that his nickname was given to the family’s Galician bodega and more so that a rebel’s heart beats in the chest of his grandson.

Pedro Rodriguez in Galancia Spain

Through the course of millennia the river Sil has slowly carved through the rocky green-and-grey terrain surrounding it. Over time the great river’s passage through central Galicia has opened up a dramatic canyon exposing the stone spine of the mountainous region it runs through. The river is at the center of an otherworldly landscape. The vineyards here are nosebleed steep. They’re traversed by treacherous ancient footpaths and lined with dusty Losa - the primordial slate that infuses the terruño of Ribeira Sacra with its soul. Making wine here is dangerous, unforgiving work. The vineyards are too steep and the terraces too narrow for machines. Harvest is backbreaking. Working in the vineyards means constant exposure to heat and wind. Grapes are carried in heavy baskets from terrace to terrace. But there is something special here, something worth uncovering. The work yields wine of raw energy and wild beauty. The river, the altitude, the slate; Mencia planted to these vineyards can give us wines of depth and character that can only be of this place.


It’s more than just the steep cut of the vineyards that makes Pedro Rodriguez the rebel winemaker of Ribeira Sacra. The guy is punk rock to the core. While everybody else was running towards technology and scale, he got busy stripping away the layers of industrial grape growing and winemaking that cover up the essence of his vineyards. He cut back the yields of his vines to allow his Mencia to develop a bright natural acidity. His grapes are pressed whole-cluster. Stems and all they are foot-stomped in open vats and wild-yeast fermented.

Guimaro’s red wines are place-makers. They’re the kind of wines that will have us all looking to Ribeira Sacra for greatness. They can be refined and complex, but the best of them are primal, powerfully aromatic and impossible to mistake for wines of another origin. They’re worth finding, buying, and drinking. It’s a testament to Pedro’s ambition and skill as a winemaker that he can make both red and white wines so connected, alive, and full of energy. The bodega’s Blanco is a gorgeous sleeper and it’s this week’s WoTW (Wine of the Week). A bottling of 100% Godello, it is marked by a cool waxy texture and incredible tropical intensity. The pleasure it delivers way outstrips the wine’s price.

With just 275 cases bottled, it’s not going to be around for long.

Buy a case (12 Bottles) & SAVE 10% OFF with code: WINEWEEK10

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