Growing Albariño at BAV:
Albariño vines grow vigorously; however, their grapes are small and thick skinned, and do not produce a lot of juice. Albariño is sensitive to mildew and rot, thus in wet regions it is important to keep the roots dry with well-drained soils (such as sandy or rocky soils). At Black Ankle Vineyards, we are fortunate enough to have very rocky soil. Additionally, our vineyard crew is diligent in hand-tending our vines to ensure proper airflow and that the vines get plenty of sunlight. Our first planting of Albariño was a mere ½ acre that we purchased from Fore Vineyards and was planted in what we call our Central Block. That ½ acre provided all the Albariño we had available until 2015, when our newest planting in 2011 started yielding fruit. We used cuttings from our Albariño vines in the Central Block and grafted them to rootstock in two sections of our West Hill Block.
A Little Albariño History:
Albariño (al-ba-reen-yoh) is one of Spain’s signature white wines, mainly from the Rias Baixas region in Galicia (which is on the northwestern coast of Spain) where the wine is produced in a crisp, light style that is laced with minerality. Albariño has been grown in this region since Roman times and are some of the oldest living vines in the world (300 years old). In Portugal, Albariño is known as Alvarinho and is also used in Portugal’s white Vinho Verde blends.
In the Rias Baixas, you'll find vineyards located closer to the coast growing their Albariño overhead on pergolas (parras in Spanish), which allows air to circulate around the fruit, protecting it from rot in the region’s unusually humid microclimates. Also, the Rias Baixas, Albariño grown closer to the ocean will show increased acidity and freshness, with a pronounced mineral edge given the granite soils there, whereas further inland will show riper and richer fruit flavors, with softer acidity and typically a higher alcohol.