Rias Baixas, Spain
José Maria Ureta
José Maria Ureta is the scion of one of the oldest winemaking families in Spain. The tradition began with his great-grandfather, who ran a bulk wine business in Rioja. José Maria inherited the family passion for winemaking and followed in his ancestors' footsteps.
In 1997, José Maria earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Santiago de Compostela, and continued postgraduate studies in viticulture, oenology and law at the University Politécnina of Madrid.
Upon completion of his studies, José Maria began his career in Rioja D.O. —where his great-grandfather had worked years before—with the Faustino Group, a team of top oenologists who pool their vast knowledge to produce great wines.
One year later, José Maria received an offer from La Val, a new winery with great future prospects, located in his hometown of Rias Baixas. His career at La Val has been extremely successful, earning him in 2002 the prestigious Knights of the Albariño award, "Joven Albariñense Capitulo Serenismo del Albariño", given each year to a young oenologist who shows great potential. He has also earned medals at the Challenge Internacional du Vin and various other wine competitions around the world.
When he's not making wine, José Maria serves on the Tasting Committee of Consejo Rias Baixas—a quality control panel that samples all regional wines before bottling. Only those wines that pass the "organoléptico" examination earn the D.O. status of Rias Baixas.
The hillside vineyards of La Val are still José Maria's home and the winemaking site for Barona—Oriel's stellar 2004 Albariño.