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24/02/2016

Grupo Yllera, Rueda wines

Vidal Maté. @trigolimpio_VM

Grupo Yllera is one of the leading wineries in DO Rueda, not only because of the volume it produces and the types of wines it makes, but also because of its direct relationship with the place where it all began. Compared with the arrival en masse of wineries from other DOs to set up their own facilities or to make their wines in wineries in the area, Yllera has defended wines from the region since inception.

Its current name, Grupo Yllera, dates back to 2002, prior to which it was called Bodega Los Curros, and its president, Marcos Yllera, is part of the sixth generation of a family that is historically linked to the production and sale of bulk wines, produced in Rueda and in other areas. The winery was initially created from a Grupo Sindical de Colonización in the 1960s and later began operating as an Association for Agricultural Transformation (SAT). In the 1990s it became a Limited Liability Company.

Although DO Rueda currently ranks second in terms of the volume of wine consumed in Spain, trailing only Rioja, and white wines account for 95% of its production, in particular in the hospitality segment, things were much different in the 1970s. The Yllera family were pioneers in committing to the production and sale of wines from the area, and specifically at that time they were one of the main proponents for the creation of the Designation of Origin and the launch of the brand Cantosán as the first Verdejo in Rueda.

The winery currently remains committed to Rueda wines in terms of innovation and diversity, with a total of 15 products, such as Bracamonte Rueda, Bracamonte Verdejo, Cantosán Brut, Cantosán Brut Nature, Cantosán Reserva Familiar, Cantosán Semiseco, Cantosán Verdejo Viñas Viejas, Tierra Buena, Viña 65 Rueda, Viña 65 Verdejo, Viña Garedo Rueda, Viña Garedo Verdejo, Yllera Sauvignon Blanc, Yllera Verdejo Vendimia Nocturna and Olivante Laura.

In line with the winery's focus on innovation, in 2009 it launched a product called Frizzante 5.5, which has a low level of alcohol as it only underwent semi-fermentation. The product marked a turning point for the group with the sale of 1.5 million bottles. The plan is to develop a new wine somewhere in the middle between Frizzante and traditional wines. In line with diversification, it also has a cava and a vermouth.

Together with the firm commitment to DO Rueda wines, mainly whites, the group set out in Ribera del Duero in the 1980s with the acquisition of a cooperative in Boada de Roa (Burgos) to produce Bracamonte red wine. The group took its next step outside Rueda by entering DO Toro to produce its Garcilaso wine. Under the Yllera brand, the group makes red wines by mixing Ribera del Duero and Toro grapes as well as Rioja wines. In the last year, it strengthened its presence in Ribera del Duero by acquiring the Entrecastillos winery, which had practically been abandoned by investors from other sectors who thought wine was a fast and easy business. They gave up after investing 9 million euros in the town of Curiel de Duero which was, for the group, the location of an initial investment of 7 million euros, which included the purchase of around 25 hectares of centuries-old vineyards.

Just as it did in DO Rueda, Yllera has seen more than double-digit annual growth in recent years, with revenues of approximately 12 million euros from the sale of around 4.5 million bottles. Of those sales, approximately 30% correspond to the new range of semi-fermented Frizzante wines, 30% to white Verdejos, 30% to red Vinos de la Tierra wines, and 10% to Ribera del Duero wines.

Loyal followers of the traditional farmers' philosophy, Yllera has never entered into debt to cover its investments, and growth has historically been achieved using its own resources, although it strayed from this strategy in its most recent acquisition in Ribera del Duero.

One of the issues that remains to be addressed by the winery is internationalization. In contrast with the strategy of other wineries in the areas where it operates, exports account for just 10% of sales, although its products are available in around 30 countries. Group chairman Marcos Yllera justifies the situation by the fact that sales in Spain are performing very well and that the group's production is adapted to the needs of rising demand for wines from that DO.

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