In 1999, Manolo Olmo with the help of a longtime family friend began his dream to make wine in his hometown of Camporobles and together they built SierraNorte. The winery is located in Utiel-Requena which is an appellation in Valencia. Their vineyards are located at an average altitude of 920 meters in elevation which is the highest in the DO. They are the furthest inland from the sea at over 100 km and lie in the shadows of the Sierra Norte mountains giving their vineyards a decidedly more “continental” climate than Mediterranean.
The story of the Olmo family and viticulture begins around 1914 when the family started to be grape growers for the local coop. Manolo’s parents wanted him to be more than a grower so they struggled to send him to college. He, though, was in love with working in the vineyards and so as a compromise to his family he went to the winemaking school in Requena (which is one of the top schools in Spain). After school, he decided to work in Galicia as a consultant and spent time working with wineries in Rias Baixas, Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra and Bierzo. In his 6 years there he got to work with 20 different wineries with diverse grape varieties and terroirs – it was an amazing learning opportunity. With this knowledge…he decided to come back to Camporobles and his family’s vineyards…and to focus on the native grape…Bobal.
Bobal is a grape with a lot of vigor and a lot of tannin. As growers for the coop, the family vineyards had been worked and pruned for volume and so the first think Manolo had to do was change gears! The first step was to move the viticulture to organics. He then decide to keep the very old vines – many over a 100 years old – and manage the pruning and nutrients to the vines to curb their vigor and slowly change their production “mode”. When Bobal is allowed to realize its vigor, the bunches can often be very big. The big bunches mean uneven ripening – so Manolo pruned the vines over time to have the vines make smaller bunches and fewer bunches. This creates more even ripening, higher quality juice and better tannins. Then in the bodega he makes the wine in a way to not extract a lot of tannin – all the decisions are to keep tannins in check while accentuating the fruit and acidity. He always uses native yeasts and uses oak not for oak flavor but to soften and round the wines tannins. This conversion of the vineyards took 8 years and the result is Temperamento.