Vivid Producer of the Month: Cuatro Rayas
The Verdejo grape may have been grown across Spain for centuries, but only in the past forty years has it truly emerged into the limelight. Once an obscure variety, relegated to use in fortified wine, modern winemaking techniques and a growing focus on still wine production have meant that its fresh, zesty character has begun to shine in full force - and no winery is showcasing its power quite like its primary champion, Cuatro Rayas.
Cuatro Rayas is the largest producer in the Rueda appellation, boasting over 2000ha of planted vines, and bottling around 20% of the DO's wine. The winery has gained a name as the 'benchmark' for quality Spanish whites, and all focus is fixed on the star of the Rueda, Verdejo. Cuatro Rayas is located in La Seca, often upheld as the 'natural' home of Verdejo, and the top quality area for its production, with sandy-clay soils and deep drainage that prove ideal for the grape.
Protecting this invaluable terroir is key to the driving philosophies of Cuatro Rayas. Here, sustainable thinking goes hand in hand with both tradition and technology, not only to achieve the best wines possible, but also to safeguard the 'wine heritage of [their] grandparents for future generations. Pioneers in adapting new trends and innovations in viticulture, Cuatro Rayas' oenology department is run by three winemakers: Angel Calleja, Elena Oyague, and Roberto Tello. Combined, their experience and passion drives the winery to a level of unmatched quality and green thinking in Rueda.
The 'Green & Social' seal
Cuatro Rayas pride themselves on being a leading voice in the movement towards sustainability. Their commitment to both the natural and human environment in which they work is embodied under their 'Green & Social' programme, through which they aim to be leaders in sustainable wine production.
Despite their vines spanning thousands of hectares, every vineyard at Cuatro Rayas is organically farmed and certified. Special care is taken to minimise the impact generated on the environment in which the winery works, and logistics teams consistently calculate and aim to reduce their carbon footprint. The winery now operates as zero-waste, with significant improvements being made constantly in ecological management, and filtering is entirely vegan-friendly. The weight of glass bottles has been reduced, and only natural materials are used in their packaging - from plastic free screw capsules, to water-based ink on labels, all ensuring that everything is fully biodegradable.
Cuatro Rayas don't just focus on their natural environment in their drive towards sustainability. Their social environment spans around 300 growers working for the co-operative, whose lives 'revolve around Verdejo' - and, as they are committed to the grape, so too are Cuatro Rayas committed to bettering their wellbeing. By improving the living standard of both their partners and employees, the winery aims to create wealth and facilitate employment for future generations to come, as well as create a sense of commitment to their company from workers.
Their dual approach is exemplified in the Green & Social logo design. Comprised of a grape and smiley face, connected by two arrows that form a circle, the logo highlights the interdependence of both the winery's natural environment, and the sustenance of those who inhabit it.