Four Key Takeaways from our 2022 European Wine Tour

By Dave Schavone

There are a lot of amazing things about the wine business: the people [who tend to be happier than in any other industry I’ve worked], great wine [duh], amazing dinners, and truly incredible travel. The pandemic put a damper on most things for a couple years, but as we and the rest of the world started to learn to live with Covid-19 and its iterations, the RedThumb team was finally able to make the long-awaited European wine tour trip to see the vineyards of Quaderna Via [where our wines are made].

ProWein 2022 in Dusseldorf was a most excellent place to meet growers.

ProWein is a massive annual trade show held in Düsseldorf, Germany. Thousands of wine and spirits producers are in attendance, all sampling their products and looking to make connections. One of our goals with RedThumb has always been to find wines from different regions, countries and even continents that meet our standards, and trade shows like ProWein are a great way to meet a lot of producers and try a lot of that kind of wine in a short amount of time. It’s essentially a full European wine tour in a single city. Diego and I tried some seriously amazing stuff from all over the world–hoping to bring a few to you next year.

Logroño, Spain rules.

The other focus of this trip was to spend some time getting to know Jorge and Raul Ripa Ianzaron, the brothers who run Bodegas y Vinedos Quaderna Via aka the winemakers we partnered with in Navarra, Spain. Jorge suggested we meet in Logroño, Spain. [Side note: Epic city, gorgeous. It also is the trade center for Spain’s most famous wine region, La Rioja.] Our broker in the region joined us too, Jordi Prat Morgades from Fanvino, and he and Jorge took us on a walking tour of Logroño’s famous pintxo destination, Calle Laurel. Given our New Orleans roots, an entire street dedicated to bar hopping and eating was right up our alley. All of the pintxos were amazing, but the classic Gilda stole the show.

Visiting our producers is essential to what we do.

Touring the vineyards there at Quaderna Via made everything we’re committed to at RedThumb come into very clear focus. It’s one thing to know we believe in natural farming practices because we understand that they are less harmful to the earth and everything those vineyards share the earth with…but seeing it all up close connected us to the honest simplicity of traditional winemaking.

These winemakers totally avoid all pesticides, irrigation, and over-manipulation in the vineyard; hearing Jorge show us the specifics was just so cool. We discussed QV’s use of cover crops to help thwart certain pests and use of non-intrusive pheromone strips for others makes me wonder why anyone would cover their vines in cancer-causing chemicals. Their [truly pretty adorable] bird houses and “bug hotels” encourage a thriving ecosystem that naturally accomplishes what so many seek to do with chemicals and genetic modification. In fact, after walking through the vineyard Diego and I were covered in various flies and insects, none of them harmful to the vines, all part of that incredibly valuable and delicate balance.

What it means to be “stewards of the vine”.

Organic farmers talk of being stewards of the land, and at Quaderna Via they practice being stewards of the vines: helping where they can, but taking direction from the vines and not the other way around. There is knowledge within those vines that we are only beginning to understand, and a balance to that small ecosystem that we humans are far more likely to mess up than improve upon. It drove home for us that this can be bigger than just great wine, but can teach us a lot about humanity’s place in the world and how best to protect what matters most.