One of the great historic houses in Rioja, Jesus Martinez Bujanda Mora had been exploring world wine regions for several years and have landed in the Walla Walla Valley. A former graduate of the University of Washington, Jesus sought a location in the Walla Walla Valley and has build a beautiful new winery which opened last weekend. I recently had the chance to sit down with Jesus and talk about his exciting new project. He shared his insights into starting this exciting new winery and the impact it brings to the Walla Walla Valley. I think you will very much enjoy hearing his story in wine. Here is my exclusive interview with Jesus Martinez Bujanda Mora, founder of Valdemar Estates.
WWB How did you decide to start Valdemar Estates?
JM: After a few years looking for a project in Spain we realized we were not excited about it anymore and we decided to look outside of Spain for something more unique, something that could turn into an important milestone in our family. I was very attracted by the USA and WA in particular as I am former University of Washington student so I brought my father and sister here and we all fall in love of WA and Walla Walla.
WWB: I have been very impressed with your Bodega Valdemar ‘Reserva’ Rioja bottlings which offer a ton of value. Do you plan to offer such great values at Valdemar Estates? How challenging is it for you to build your wine port at Valdemar Estates?
JM: Yes of course we will offer our Rioja wines in our winery in Walla Walla. In order to be able to sell our Rioja wines we had to create a restaurant in our winery because otherwise we were only able to sell the wines produced at our Walla Walla winery.
To be honest, when we started this project I would never told you that we were going to do a restaurant.. but I think we turned it into a great opportunity to offer a unique experience in the Valley. We are not a full restaurant but we will offer a very exciting tapas menu that will enhance our local and our Rioja wines.
WWB: How different do you find Walla Walla to be from La Rioja?
Quite different really. After 130 years in Rioja, coming here to learn about this amazing region is very exciting and refreshing for us. I think would not make sense to come here and try to do everything as we do in Rioja, we have to find our style in Washington and that is going to be a learning curve. But that is what makes this project so exciting for us.
WWB: Are you getting a sense of what varietals you feel grow best in the Walla Walla Valley? Why do you like about the growing region in Walla Walla?
JM: The diversity of “terroirs” you can find in Walla Walla is amazing and we are already invested in two of the most exciting ones (in our opinion of course): The Rocks and The North Fork.
Regarding grapes we are particularly attracted by Syrah and Grenache but we will do also Cabernet, Chardonnay, Viognier and others. Another thing that we are going try is to bring cuttings from ancient Rioja grapes such as Maturana and for that we are now about to sign an agreement with the WSU.
WWB: When you are not enjoying your Valdemar wines what are some of your favorite wines and wine producers of the world? What is your cellar like?
JM: Well my cellar was “reset” last year when I moved to Walla Walla so I don’t have much old wine now. I don’t drink my own wines very often at home as I try to learn as much as possible about other wines and other regions.
Apart from Rioja and Washington, some of my favorite regions are Alsace, Loire and Galicia (specially Godello) for whites and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tuscany and Bierzo for reds.