“Ramón-do-Casar” leads the Ribeiro DO with la Treixadura
Discover ‘Ramón-do-Casar’ and an immediate contemporality in a company that uniquely combines a modern image with elements from the recent and not so recent past, in the history of an individual, and a family, conveying the essence of Ribiero DO through intense emotions.
The waters of the Miño meander across the land in our journey from east to west. We set off from Ourense’s Porto Vello in pursuit of our destination, ‘Ramón-do-Casar’ in Prado, Castrelo de Miño. We soon reach the Ribeiro, famous as a winemaking region since the early Middle Ages under the Crown of Castilla and Leon, and much lauded by cultured 13th-century king, Alfonso X. “Assi com’eu bevería boo vino d’Ourens…”, in Galician, the language of diplomacy. It feels nearer as we leave behind us the “ínsua” of the Troncoso river poking above the waterline1. The Castrelo dam changed both the landscape and life here fifty years ago, its construction resulting in the disappearance of centuries-old vineyards between Ponte-Castrelo, Santa María and Ventosela. Here in the region’s heart were the fertile islands of Cabreira and what is known as ‘A Illa’, described as ‘Isleta Ailla’ on the first National Topographic map in 19432. Both are now mere fragments of memory and imagination, much like Quijote’s imaginary island of ínsula Barataria.
This map was published in the 40s, hard years of a post-war period which saw the overseas emigration of many young people from the middle of the decade onwards, a situation which the Franco dictatorship accepted as a solution to the economic stagnation that was in fact as a result of its political ideology, in the context of euphoria in democratic, parliamentary Europe at the time after defeating its defeat of the Third Reich and Italian fascism. The misery continued in the 50s, with gradually increasing levels of emigration as a solution to people’s difficult personal and family situations. This is the backdrop to Ramón González who left Astariz for Venezuela in 1955, but would go on to establish this vineyard in the neighbouring parish of Prado de Miño. In the promised land of South America, with hard work and a bit of luck, Ramón gradually achieved his goals over the following decades: he married, had children, bought the longed for land, and consolidated the dream he shared with his wife and family and which has gradually taken shape in the 21st century with the dawn of the new millennium.
In our journey along this section of the Miño river, we leave Astariz and Vide behind us, catching sight of the white profile of the winery building which stands out against the different shades of green of the hillside. Beyond the vegetation on the shores of the river we find the vineyard, divided by the regional motorway, lines of vines stretching up the slope perpendicular to the river like strands of wet hair: this is the visible wine growing landscape, modern and characteristic which transforms the traditional system to adapt to new methods and technologies. The house on the hill and beyond this basic structure with its clean lines and granite structure, the mountain, and beyond that the Royal Road, with the high treetops forming an irregular and uneven horizon. The land releases its perfume in the early morning and the grapes absorb it during the warm afternoons to transform this energy at sundown into flavour. Today’s château frames the O Ribeiro space asserting itself like a symbol of new times.
We leave our time-travelling boat here before the waters steer it to port in A Granxa and after mooring we set foot on the estate, entering the winemaking lands of the family vineyard. We leave the road behind and enter the second part of the property, a winemaking landscape where we reach the white acropolis of Ramón-do-Casar on foot, at our backs an old stone wall with plants growing from the cracks. The north-facing building has asymmetric sections over different levels, with western façades in translucent glass and angular shapes to the walls. Rectangular and geometric, all the sections have terraced roofs. This architecture is an expression of a conscious choice which ex nunc3 demonstrates a concept that combines the practical correlation between function and shape and a desire for representation. Because “as music is experienced over time, so is architecture”, in the words of Le Corbusier. The lack of a roof and the choice of light colours for the external walls are two of the characteristics of this great Swiss French architect and painter, a leading figure in the early 20th-century movement to make architecture rational and functional. The control of the use of light, necessary in the work area, and the volume and transparency of the angular corners of the north eastern block, -a lesson from Bauhaus- breaks with the paradigm of the constructive cliché found in this denomination of origin region around the Miño, Avia and Arnoia. This external image is an expression of modernity. As is the creation of wine using Treixadura, the queen of grapes in this Galician winemaking region and the main symbol of the Ribeiro area. Wines made with these grapes have recently won awards at local, regional, national and international level. The winery has the initials RC in Corten steel on the front of the building and it is also the logo on the wine bottles, a carefully considered concept where the “C” is the Ramón-do-Casar wine glass. In this comprehensive vision, everything comes together to give meaning to hard work and commitment.
Xabier Limia Gardón.
2The map, drawn up in Spanish, has ‘Ailla’ (sic) as a place name for ‘a illa’, meaning ‘the island’’…
3From now on, Latin phrase.