Spain’s Ramón Bilbao has released its first official organic wines, a white and a red, with the latter securing a national listing at the Co-op.

The Ramón Bilbao Organic red is a Tempranillo Garnacha blend from grapes grown at 600m altitude in Monte Yerga in Rioja Oriental where this higher altitude not only gives a fresher flavour to the wine, but also means easier fungus control and less need for chemical treatments. The Rueda Verdejo uses fruit from an organic plot at Ramón Bilbao’s Finca las Amedias vineyard next to the winery.

Ramón Bilbao was the first Spanish winery to sign up to the Wineries for Climate Protection scheme in 2017 and has long had organic production on its innovation list. Using a precision viticulture programme, which combines data from weather stations and drones with in-house knowledge, to help achieve sustainability goals meant the producer could also pinpoint vineyards ripe for organic farming.

Organic viticulture in Rioja has always been challenging, with certified vineyards representing just 2% of total plantings. 

Head winemaker Rodolfo Bastida said: “The rainy climate and hot temperatures mean you need altitude for fresher air circulation, and Tempranillo’s naturally larger bunches make the variety more susceptible to fungus,” explains Head Winemaker Rodolfo Bastida. “It’s a real balancing act, but organic vineyards have increased by 22% year-on-year [to 2019] as we all learn more about our landscape and its possibilities.”

In the UK, organic wine has taken share from non-organic and is growing in a declining market (CAGR of over 11% from 2012 to 2017, IWSR). 

Kirsty Loftus, West & Northern Europe Area Manager, said: “Our organic wines are really an extension of our commitment to sustainability, and will tap into the growing trend of the conscious consumer – people who seek out products that have a lower impact on the environment and will choose a product that complements  their life choices.”

Sarah Benson, Co-op Wine Buyer said: “At Co-op, we’re seeing organic wine sales grow at twice the rate of total wine sales. In response, we are continuing to strengthen our range of organic wines to offer choice to our customers and members. We have a very loyal following of Rioja shoppers and I am delighted to be able to offer them an organic wine to reflect this growing trend.”

The Ramón Bilbao Organic duo have an RRP of £10.00 each and the Ramón Bilbao Organic Rioja is now available exclusively in selected Co-op stores nationwide.