Cristina Mantilla Wants to Change the Wines of Spain

Illustration by Barbara Spurll
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Trained as an organic chemist, Mantilla chose to pursue winemaking in 1990 after she happened to read a newspaper article on the subject. With no family roots in the wine business, Mantilla obtained a master’s degree in viticulture and enology from the Polytechnic University of Madrid.

She parlayed that into a winemaker position at a little-known co-op in Rías Baixas, Spain’s hotbed for Albariño, and later took on the role of technical director at Adegas Galegas.

In 2003, Mantilla founded her own winemaking consultancy, Mantivinos, whose clients have included top-level Albariño producers like Adegas Valmiñor, Pazo San Mauro and Palacio de Fefiñanes. Most recently, Mantilla is in the process of becoming a Master of Wine.

Why did you want to become a winemaker?

What brought me into wine was a fascination with science and the winemaking process, which I wanted to master and apply to Galician grape varieties.

I am Gallega, and there is an enduring “Atlantic” personality to the wines of my homeland. Showing this style is what motivates me the most.

What is your proudest achievement?

It is always difficult to choose one child over another, but I would say that I am most proud of the first Veigadares I made in 1995 for Adegas Galegas.

We made this wine from a mix of local white grapes: Albariño, Treixadura and Loureiro. We fermented it in small French oak barrels and aged it on its lees.

It’s a style of wine that never really took hold, but, to this day, it’s one of the wines that I keep closest to my heart.

What was the most surprising experience or encounter you’ve had as a female winemaker?

Spanish women have never had it easy in labor-driven careers like winemaking. But we’ve come a long way over the last 30 years.

I guess what surprises me the most is that even though there are now many more women winemakers in my country, almost no women have been put in charge of an individual winery or winery group, and that needs to change.

What is your advice to someone interested in entering the wine business?

My advice to the younger generation is to train hard and study…and to learn by traveling. Nothing is more educational and valuable than visiting other winemaking countries.

Published on February 21, 2020
Topics: Advocacy