Vinos de La Luz - spanish wines under the direction of Noelia Mena
I continue to introduce the world to the masters of winemaking and this time I was able to communicate with the oenologist of the Spanish winery brand Vinos de La Luz - Noelia Mena. Preparing for the interview, I wanted to ask the my guest about simple, at first glance, things: why Noelia chose oenology, what inspires her when creating wine, and where she draws energy for her professional activities.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Vinos de la luz oenologist noelia mena spoke about her profession and current trends in winemaking
Noelia Mena holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry, a Master's degree in Oenology, Viticulture and Wine Marketing, and a Master's degree in Management and Wine Management. Noelia is a member of the Regulatory Council of Ribera del Duero, which is involved in the evaluation of the wines of this region and is the technical director and winemaker of the Vinos de La Luz brand in Spain.
An impressive number of achievements. It also shows the firmness of character, perseverance, ambition and, of course, a huge dream.
Noelia, you have long been a professional in your field, tell us why exactly you have chosen winemaking?
My journey began with studying chemistry at the University of Valladolid. During my senior year, I started helping my brother, who at that time was working at one of the local wineries. Choosing chemistry, I was guided by my interest in how I can influence certain processes and reactions. But looking back on that period, it is clear to me that it was my work with my brother that determined my professional path.
It is also important that I grew up in the countryside of the province of Castile and Leon, in the small town of Tudera, which is located in the middle of vineyards, wheat fields and asparagus plantations. As a child, I was surrounded by nature, watched the soil being plowed, and even then I knew that I would be associated with agriculture.
How many years of working under a mentor’s direction did it take you to learn how to make wine yourself?
Wine production involves many different stages, from grape pruning to bottling. I managed to learn all this in two years, after which I was able to manage all the processes myself and went on my own path.
Noelia, your dedication is worthy of respect! But is it only academic education and practice you need to create high-quality wines?
Definitely not! Even now, I am constantly learning and improving my skills and knowledge. Professional courses, theoretical classes, work in production and vineyards, as well as constant interaction with experts and colleagues help me develop.
I have learned that you are a member of the Regulatory Board of D.O. Ribera del Duero. What is the activity of the Council?
Since its founding in 1982, the main function of the Regulatory Council of D.O. Ribera del Duero is to guarantee the authenticity of the wines of this name of origin with its seal, assuring the consumer that each bottle with a numbered label on the back is strictly checked before being poured into a glass.
Our work continues in the development of wines, ensuring the correct use of the permitted grape varieties, compliance with the different aging periods and that the wines go through the qualification process before entering the market with the seal of our D.O. Being a member of the Regulatory Board of D.O. Ribera del Duero means participating in blind tastings and taking care of the region’s image.
How do you feel about the fact that the council has included white Albillo grapes in the list of official varieties of DO Ribera del Duero?
Albillo is an autochthonous variety of this area, so definitely positive, historical justice has prevailed. The neighboring DO Rueda and DO Ribera del Duero have always been guided by an unspoken agreement: Rueda is the king of white wines, Ribera del Duero – red. Changing the situation will take a long time. Rueda can produce red wines from Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. But in order for these wines to win their niche, it is necessary to overcome a long way. This was just the first step.
You already have 12 names of wines from the same variety on your account. These are completely different lines, how did you manage to achieve such a variety?
My main secret is that I respect the characteristics of the terroir, the age of the vine, the quality of the berries and help to harmoniously combine these characteristics into a single product with tools such as the duration of maceration, temperature, degree of roasting and quality of French oak. So, our wines won five gold medals at the prestigious international Berliner competition in 2019.