Campo Viejo is a leading winery born in 1959 in the famous Rioja wine region in Spain.
Leading, Campo Viejo clearly is, by the volume of wine it produces. Its wine production alone, about 2 million cases (12-bottle cases, equivalent to 9 liters) represents nearly a 10% of the Rioja DOCa region’s total output.
The winery sources grapes from about 6400 ha of vineyards (nearly 16K acres), mainly from local vine growers, and owns 230 ha of estate vineyards (570 acres).
Visit Bodegas Campo Viejo in Video:
With its 327 stainless steel tanks at the winery, and 70 thousand wine barrels in its gigantic barrel room, Campo Viejo production facility is one of a kind.
Needless to say, Campo Viejo is an important player in the local economy, buying grapes to hundreds of growers. Thanks to its economy of scale combined with its focus on quality, the bodega is also responsible for delivering relatively affordable quality Rioja wine to the world. The brand is famous and exported worldwide, to more than 70 countries.
But leading, Campo Viejo is also, by other aspects than just the sheer volume of its production. Owned by the international group Pernod Ricard winemakers, the winery invests heavily in research and development, testing new grape varieties and new production methods, as well as in embracing art, sustainability, and respect for the environment.
Let’s dig further into Campo Viejo’s brand, winery, and wines….
Campo Viejo Wines – Reviewed
Use the Grid Below to browse our reviews of Campo Viejo wines:
Campo Viejo Brand & History
Campo Viejo brand was born in 1959, nearly 60 years ago, from the hands of two experienced Rioja winemakers, José Ortigüela and Bernardo Beristain, both from the town of Aldeanueva de Ebro.
Its name was inspired from an area of vineyards in the locale of El Villar de Arnedo, known as Campus Veteranus (translate as “the veteran’s field”) were plots were historically given to veterans of the Roman legion as a reward for their merits. The name turned into Campo Viejo, meaning “The Old Field”.
1959: Campo Viejo brand was born. The first Campo Viejo wine was made in the old cellar of one of its founders, Ortigüela, located in Aldeanueva de Ebro, in the heart of La Rioja.
1960s: The first bottle of Campo Viejo was produced in 1961. At the end of the decade, construction of the then-new winery started on the outskirts of the main city in Rioja, Logroño. The winery became a benchmark in terms of innovation as it employed modern techniques with strict quality wine processing and winemaking controls.
1970s: Campo Viejo became a quality leader and one of the most consumed wines in Spain. It was so popular that nicknamed it “campito” when ordering a glass of Campo Viejo at the bar.
In 1972, Campo Viejo included a picture of vintagers on its white label as a tribute to the people who painstakingly worked the land. A few years later, the label included the mention of 4th year, as a guarantee to consumers that the wine had been aged for four years. This initiative came ahead to the Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva categories which were later established by the Control Board.
In 1973, new facilities were built to allow the bottles to rest on their sides inside the case for the first time. This enabled the wine to continue with its ageing process and remain in contact with the cork until it reached the end consumer.
In 1975, Campo Viejo started the be exported. The first case of wine was exported to Cuba. By the end of the decade, Campo Viejo accounted for 54% of total Rioja exports in the very demanding French market.
Two new young wines were brought out, a rosé and a white.
1980s: At the beginning of the 1980s, significant investments were made, with the purchase of vineyards in the best areas of La Rioja: Navarrete, Torremontalbo and Aldeanueva.
In 1984, the international expansion of Campo Viejo led to major awards at the most important wine industry fairs. An example of this is the gold medal given to the 1978 Grand Reserva at Vinexpo in 1987.
It was the decade of the “Campo Viejo man”, a true ambassador for the culture of wine and for the brand.
1990s: Campo Viejo embarked on a communication campaign which was very close to consumers. “The approachable Rioja, the Rioja for when you’re you.” Campo Viejo sponsored the “Rioja de España” racing yacht in the America’s Cup race held in San Diego (USA). In 1996, Campo Viejo was awarded ISO 9000 quality certification. It was the second winery in the country to receive this certification.
Campo Viejo Today: Winery, Innovation, & Sustainability
To accommodate its growth, the building of a new winery started in 2000 on an estate on “La Rad de Santa Cruz” next the old road to Fuenmayor, in the municipality of Logroño. The new facility opened and bottled its first wine on site in 2001.
21st Century Winery
Located on a plateau rising 100 meters above the Ebro Valley (see video), near Logroño, the building is the creation of Riojan architect Ignacio Quemada. Half-buried, reaching 45 meters below ground, it was designed not only to integrate harmoniously into the landscape (you virtually cannot see the sheer size of the winery from the outside), but also to provide the ideal conditions for ageing wine without and excessive use of energy for air conditioning (underground naturally-stable temperature and humidity).
Have You Ever Seen…
A Sea of #WINE Barrels 😳⁉️
— Julien Miquel #Wine (@JMiquelWine) July 21, 2017
Campo Viejo is fully integrated into the landscape and completely respectful of the environment. It is the first Spanish winery to certify by AENOR its Energy Management System in line with the ISO 50001 standard, its carbon footprint in line with the ISO 14064 and to certify CarbonNeutral®. It is also the first winery in La Rioja to receive “Q” of Tourist Quality Award and has received the Vinum Nature award for sustainable action and best environmental practices.
Vineyards & Experimentations
While the whole Rioja region crops about 64K ha of vines (160K acres), Campo Viejo sources grapes from 6400 ha in the denominación and counts with 230 ha of their own.
Maximum yields in the region are at 6500kg/ha for reds, and 9000kg/ha for whites.
Campo Viejo’s team prides itself of being one of the wineries in Rioja that treats the growers they source grapes from with most respect. Not that they necessarily pay the highest price for the grapes, but they aim at treating them fairly, making much efforts to increase the local viticultural knowledge. Proof is that most growers that sell grapes to Campo Viejo renew their contract with the group, an important factor to allow the winery’s constant growth.
Expectedly, given the surface grapes are sourced from, the vineyards are very atomized, spread around the whole region and all sub-zones of Rioja (Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja, and Rioja Alavesa). Viticulturalists at Campo Viejo try to understand the zoning to source the best grape varieties from the various areas.
To deepen this understanding of the vineyards and grapes of Rioja, Campo Viejo is the only Riojan winery to have 3 identical experimental vineyards in the 3 different areas of Rioja (Baja, Alta, and Alavesa).
All 3 experimental vineyards include all the grape varieties allowed in Rioja (5 reds and 7 whites). Indeed, since 2011, the Rioja wine regulatory body (Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Calificada de Rioja) has allowed 5 new grape varieties to be grown in the DOCa: 1 red (Maturana) and 4 whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Verdejo, and Turruntés).
These experimental vineyards will allow Campo Viejo to get their head around how these new grapes react and deliver in each of the 3 sub-zones of Rioja, especially through the perspective of an evolution of the climate and global warming.
To be able to vinify each grape variety from its experimental vineyards, Campo Viejo opened during the 2013 grape harvest an Experimental Winery, its own 210 m2 research center within the winery’s own facilities, to innovate through experimentation. With 48 stainless steel tanks of different capacities and specially designed for the space, the ‘mini-winery’ (my own terminology) is equipped with modern instruments for experiments and winemaking.
One of the first research projects carried out on this experimental laboratory was the launch in July 2014 of a limited collection made with the newly-permitted white grape varieties of the D.O.Ca. Rioja. These experimental wines are only available for purchase at the Rioja winery’s cellar door itself.
One wine though, based on a new grape variety, has already come through to full-size production, and is already available on the UK market (only there at this stage), a White Tempranillo.
Here’s what it tastes like: Tasting 2016 Campo Viejo Viura-Tempranillo Blanco Rioja
Only available in the U.K. right at the moment, more broadly soon…
Score: 88/100 pts.
Tasting Notes: Bright and quite light lemon-yellow 🍋 color with hints of a green hue. A delicate light and floral nose, with acacia honey 🍯 and citrus 🍊 aromas: lime and zesty lemon. Dry and crisp palate, driven by a vibrant citric acidity. Subtle floral flavors and a lemon juice feel. A light-bodied, approachable, refreshed and zesty white wine, perfect for warm summer nights and pairing with tasty foods 🥘 . It’s only 12% alcohol as well, so quite light on the alcohol content.
‘Campo Viejo Streets of Colour’
‘Campo Viejo Streets of Colour’ is an invitation for people to live a life full of color and passion, or what is the same, to “live uncorked“, the brand’s leitmotiv.
The start of the initiative took place, as could not be otherwise, in the Logroño winery. Two urban artists, Remed and Okuda, entered a process of inspiration together with the winemakers to create a color based on the Campo Viejo wines, which they then used to create a six-meter-high sculpture that rises in the middle of the vineyard next to the winery (see in video).
That same inspiration and that same color was later taken to other cities, including London, Brussels, Miami, Madrid, Dublin, Barcelona, Oslo, Toronto and Amsterdam, in the form of festivals called “Campo Viejo Streets of Colour”, large artistic food and wine events.
Vertical Tasting of Campo Viejo Gran Reserva Wines
While touring the winery with Chief Winemaker, Elena Adell, I had the rare opportunity to taste older vintages of Campo Viejo’s Gran Reserva wines next to each other. See my tasting notes below.
2001 Campo Viejo Gran Reserva
Score: 92/100 pts. Garnet color of medium intensity with orange hues, but still plenty of vibrant red freshness. The nose first brings in touches of leather and smokiness from the bouquet of evolution, but swirl and aerate the wine a little, and fresh vibrant red berry aromas come through, always with great freshness. Sour cherry is a dominant note, with quince, tobacco and truffle. Complex and deep to smell at. Very soft and glycemic palate, but also very juicy and mineral, solid acidity punching with fresh ripe berry flavors. Mid-palate is characterful with velvety granulous tannins that feel they’ve been given a silky fluffy cover with ageing time. Extreme power and complexity to an explosive finish. Outstanding citrus notes together with great acidity bring an overall outstanding freshness despite the overall stunning richness of the red fruit flavors and pungent spiciness.
Excellent to drink now, probably around its peak, but should evolve well for another 5 to 10 years.
2005 Campo Viejo Gran Reserva
Score: 93/100 pts. Intense garnet color, looking quite dark with slight orange hues but very red, even with purple hues intensifying the appearance. Still tight on the nose, leather and black pepper sustain ripe dark berry aromas. It’s ripe and generous to smell, plum, a bit of prune. Generous oily texture on the palate as well, oily and opulent, with velvety tannins with a soft feel. A ripe vintage with much power, on liqueur-like flavors and opulent spiciness. This 2005 is still evolving and feeling relatively young at this point. Drink between 2022 and 2030.
2011 Campo Viejo Gran Reserva
Score: 92+/100 pts. Bright red color of medium intensity, with a fair bit of orange hues already despite having been released just a few months ago at the time it is tasted here. The outstanding feature to the nose is the spiciness and distinct herbal characters of Provençal herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage, slightly minty) more pronounced and dominant than in the other vintages. Sour cherry and clove. Lifted and spicy nose, yet deep and with solid savory fruit aromas. The palate is opulent and utterly smooth, with extremely silky tannins. The oily texture here is outstanding. A soft and utterly smooth vintage, with the signature fruitiness and spiciness of Campo Viejo Gran Reserva wines. Drink between 2022 and 2030.
Campo Viejo Winemakers
Chief Winemaker – Elena Adell
Elena Adell, Winemaker Director of Bodegas Campo Viejo, was born in Logroño in 1958 and has been making wines since 1985. She was interested in viticulture ever since she was a student, which led her to become an agricultural engineer from the University of Cordoba before specialising in Viticulture and Oenology in Madrid at a time when degrees in oenology were relatively unusual.
Her first job in viticulture was as head of the vineyard section of the Regional Ministry of Agriculture and Food of La Rioja. In 1995, Elena joined Bodegas AGE, where she began her career as a winemaker, taking charge of vinification processes, although she always continued supervising everything that had to do with the vineyards. In addition, during this period, she was in charge of the winery’s Quality Control.
Finally, in 1998 Elena joined the Campo Viejo family. Today, she leads the Bodegas Campo Viejo winemaking team. Her maxim, in her own words, is to make “unique wines with their own personality that invite you to pour another glass during a meal or a chat with friends”.
Clara Canals was born in Tarragona in 1982, but in 1984 her family moved to Logroño (La Rioja), where she grew up. She studied Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Navarra, but after that and due to her passion for wine, travelling, and her upbringing in the famous Spanish wine-growing region, Rioja, she obtained her European Masters Degree in Oenology and Viticulture (Emave-Vinifera Masters 2007-2009).
In her degree’s first year, she studied at the Agronomic school SupAgro in Montpellier (France); the following year she enrolled at the Politechnic University in Madrid (Spain), and she completed her final project in Marlborough, New Zealand. Since then, she’s experienced vintages in different wine regions throughout the world, including harvests in Australia, South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand, and obviously Spain. In 2011, she knew it was time to come back to her home, Rioja, joining the winemaking team at Campo Viejo.
She works under the leadership of Elena Adell to provide modern & innovative wines, especially designed to be enjoyed among friends.