Voice behind the Vine: Diego Pinilla, Viña Pomal


Diego Pinilla is the winemaker behind the Viña Pomal Rioja Crianza 2011 and Rioja Reserva 2009. Here he answers our questions about his life at the winery.

How did you get into wine producing?
My mother comes from a long line of winemakers so I expect it’s in my blood – but throughout my childhood I wanted to be a doctor like my father. Needless to say I’m very happy I changed my mind and became a winemaker. I feel very privileged to have such an interesting and varied job – and what better way to finish the day than with a glass of wine that you’ve produced yourself!

What are the challenges of being a wine producer in Rioja?
In Rioja we work with a small selection of grape varieties. In Haro, where we’re based, almost all fruit is Tempranillo. Thankfully Tempranillo is a versatile variety; its characters alter depending on where and how it’s grown, so we work hard to maximise the fruit characteristics from each vineyard plot and the variations from each soil type and microclimate. This allows us to blend different styles of Tempranillo at the winery.

Why does Viña Pomal use 100% Tempranillo?
Tempranillo is the primary grape of Rioja and, we believe, offers the best expression of classic Rioja. It’s well suited to the Rioja region as it’s an early maturing variety that thrives in cooler climate regions, and we are fortunate that our 250 hectares of vineyards enable us to produce single varietal Tempranillo wines rather than needing to blend with other varietals.

Why does Viña Pomal only use estate-grown grapes?
Only using estate-grown fruit means we have complete control of the winemaking process, from vineyard to barrel. It’s relatively unique for a Rioja winery to have its own estate-grown fruit and we consider this to be a major strength.

Have you ever considered making a Rioja Blanco or Rosado?
We have been producing a Cava at the winery for decades, called Royal Carlton, and in the past have made whites and rosés. In the 1990s we decided to stop making white and rosés but I think we should recover that part of our history. Watch this space!

Do you have any new or experimental plantings?
We are trialling some new Graciano plantings and experimenting with some white varieties like White Grenache and White Tempranillo. We’re looking forward to seeing the results.

If you were told you could only drink one more glass of wine ever, what would you choose?
If it’s to be my last wine, it would hopefully be a Viña Pomal 2050 or 2060 vintage which allows me plenty more years of life first! But if you mean right now, I’d like my last glass of wine to be one made by myself, so that with every sip I could reflect on all the great moments I have lived and people I’ve met thanks to my winemaking career.

If you had to describe yourself as a wine, what would you be?
Probably a young Reserva – good fruit and passion with potential for ageing but initially some green tannins that will smooth in time.

Finally, music to drink wine to?
Very easy, Spanish guitar – Paco de Lucia.

Thanks Diego! Here are a few stunning photographs of the beautiful vineyards around the town of Haro in Rioja where Diego and Viña Pomal grow their grapes…

Pomal Vineyard Pomal Vineyard Pomal Vineyard Pomal Vineyard Pomal Vineyard

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