The years around 1870 were unstable times for Europe. In Spain, Queen Isabella was dethroned in a coup d'état. The search for a suitable successor was even one of the causes of the Franco-German War.
Around the same time, Luciano de Murrieta y García-Lemoine set a milestone in Spanish wine history with the acquisition of a plot of land in the heart of Rioja. Years earlier, he had acquired sound knowledge of viticulture and cellar techniques in Bordeaux, and finally incorporated this into the production of his first wines in Logroño from 1852. Unlike Bordeaux, however, he vinified in American oak and let the wines mature much longer. Success came promptly. His winery became the first commercial winery in the region, with deliveries as far away as Cuba and Mexico.
In 1872, he was elevated to nobility by the "short-term king" Amadeus and, as Marqués de Murrieta, acquired the aforementioned piece of land on which he had his own château built, the Château Ygay or Castillo Ygay, with the henceforth famous winery. Not only did he significantly advance his winery, but also the region, and he undoubtedly helped shape the later DOCa Rioja designation of origin.
Vicente D. and Cristina Cebrián-Sagarriga, Marqués de Murrieta
He died childless, but his work continued. In 1983, Vicente Cebrián-Sagarriga, Count of Creixell, took over the winery and modernised it together with his wife, Chus Suárez-Llanos – always preserving the Marqués' legacy. Today, it is run by their children Vicente D. and Cristina Cebrián-Sagarriga, who dedicate a touching tribute to their parents on the company homepage – they inherited the passion for what they do from them.
The prestige cuvée Castillo Ygay, Marqués de Murrieta, Dalmau, Capellanía and Pazo Barrantes are produced, all with very different styles. The hand-picked grapes for the Marqués de Murrieta Reserva come from the 300 hectares of vineyards that surround the château and grow at an altitude between 320-485 metres. The wine consists of 87 percent Tempranillo, six percent Graciano, five percent Mazuelo and two percent Garnacha.
Incidentally, the castle has been completely restored and has been open to visitors since 2014. It is considered one of the most iconic old industrial buildings in all of Europe. In addition to tasting and event rooms, the interior also houses a historic collection of the Marqués' wines, documents, labels and production rooms.