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My Story So Far

Vinos Ambiz was started back in 2003 by me (Fabio) and a friend (Juan), but at the end of 2011 we went our separate ways, and since then I have been growing the grapes and making the wine by myself. I used to have a day job as a translator in Madrid for quite a long time, until I got fired back in 2017, and since then I've been a full-time vigneron.

Ancient History

2004/5. The first year we had a mere 250 vines of white Airén grapes in Carabaña and a 'place' in Tielmes. We made about 600 bottles if I remember rightly. The place we used as a winery was actually a house excavated into the side of a hill (see photo below). The first two rooms on either side of the front door had windows, but the rest was completely underground. The good thing about it was that the temperature was a constant 17-18ºC all year round. The bad thing about it was that it was about 100 yds from the nearest road, and uphill, and we had to carry up the cases of grapes by hand. The worst thing about it was that the neighbour kept 6 vicious barking hunting dogs chained up on either side of the path; and the length of their chains was just so that there was a narrow, narrow strip in the middle of the path where you were safe from their snapping jaws.

My first ever 'bodega' (in Tielmes in 2004/5)

2005/6. The second year we had the same vineyard, but (thankfully) we moved to a house-cave in Perales, a village about 10 km from the vineyard. This was also a house excavated into the side of a hill, but with major differences. It was right in the centre of the village, so there was access by van right up to the front door; there was no neighbour with dogs. The temperature was also a constant 17-18ºC all year round. The first two rooms nearest the front door were normal rooms and that's where we set up the crusher and press and kept all our stuff. The rest of the cave was a long 100 m tunnel that bore straight into the hill, and off this tunnel were little niches, where we set up the fermentation tanks, one per niche.

2006/7. The third year we expanded the vineyard to 1200 vines (70% Airén, 30% Tempranillo) in Carabaña and moved bodega to Ambite, another village also about 10 km from the vineyard but in the other direction. This time it was an abandoned cow-shed! It took us about a month to clean it and paint it with whitewash, and to clean it and whitewash it again! This was the first year that we made red wine.

2007/8. The fourth year was the same as the third, in that we stayed in the same bodega and didn't take on any new vineyards.

2008/9. The fifth year we took on a second much larger vineyard in Ambite, with about 12 acres of Tempranillo and 6 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, but we had to abandon it after a year (see The Vineyard(s) page).

2009/10 The sixth year was the same as the fifth.

2010/11. The seventh year we took on a new vineyard in Villarejo (see The Vineyard(s) page) and we were able to move into a 'real' winery in Morata de Tajuña, by renting some of the space available there. In December of this year I split up from Juan due to increasing incompatibility as business partners, both from a winemaking style point of view, and also from a financial commitment point of view.

2011/12. This year was my first year working alone, and though I was a bit worried at first, I managed perfectly fine in the end. I had intended to expand both the quantity and range of wines this year, but due to our separation, I decided to play it safe and delay things for another year.

Recent History

2012/13. In May 2013 I found a new bodega to move into (in the Gredos Mountains), and after several weeks of negotiating, I signed a rental contract, and started painting, cleaning, refurbishing and doing paperwork for licenses and permits. See the The Winery page, for details.

2013/14. The 2013 harvest went extraordinarily well for me and I made about 17 different types of wine, most of them small experimental lots, along with my usual main offerings, ie young white Airén, skin-contact 'orange' Malvar, and red Tempranillo and Garnacha. For details on all the types of wines, see this post.

2014-2017. This was a period of ever increasing intensity and comittment to the winemaking aspect of my life; and ever less comittment to my day-job as a translator! And infacrt one day the inevitable finally happened and I got fired! Basically for taking three-month holidays in the summer and for working a 20-hr week during the rest of the year. I was terribly upset and worried at the time, as my confort zone had been bruttaly destroyed. But as the months went by, I was so busy with wine stuff that I had no time to fret or get depressed or whatever one is supposed to do after one gets fired from theur job of over 20 years. In fact things went so well in 2017, that I found myself wishing that they had fired me long before!

2017-present. Now I'm facing new types of challenges. The main one is coming to terms with the fact that I'm no longer a startup, ie learning how to manage vineyards, make good wine and getting myself known in the natural wine world, and promoting and selling my wines. Of course I'm still learning, and I imagine that I will always continue to learn till the day I die! I'd be an idiot if I thought I knew it all already! What I mean is that I have a different set of problems/challenges/goals to deal with, which have to do with running a small, well-established and viable business. For example, I now have about 15 importers, who regularly order wines from me, (plus half a dozen new ones) which is great, but I don't know how to manage the sharing out of my wines among them. Last year a few of them were left without any wine and they were justifiably angry with me. Another example is managing supplies. As I write this (Jan 2019) I have 5 confirmed orders to fill (total of about 6000 bottles) and I just discovered that I don't have enough bottles of boxes! Duh! But I never had to think about this kind of stuff before! And there's more... but I won't bore you with the details.

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