Cume do Avia
Ribeiro, Galicia, Spain
A relentless – and nearly reckless – adventure into the soul of Galician wine
In 2005, brothers Diego and Álvaro Colarte made the very unwise and wholly passionate decision – with their cousins as accomplices – to leave their lives in industrial Vigo and go back to the family’s village. A ruin and an abandoned vineyard awaited them. The rest is not history: it is a story of much work, perseverance and determination.
Location: Ribadavia, Galicia, Spain
Working with us since: 2020
Viticultural Standards: Organic (non-certified)
Our pick of the best wine from this producer: Rosete
Interesting fact: Cume do Avia have an incredible viticultural wealth: thirteen different indigenous grape varieties planted on a mosaic of terroirs – granite, grey and red schist, sand, clay, slate. Diego is determined to understand and make the most of it and learn as much through the process. He therefore has a fastidious methodological approach – each variety and micro-plot (divided according to soil type) are fermented separately.
Cume do Avia Wines
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The Colarte clan – headed by Diego, with brother Álvaro and cousins Fito and Anxo as partners in crime – started Cume do Avia in 2005 in Eira dos Mouros, the hamlet their ancestors abandoned in 1942. On a hill (‘Cume’), overlooking river Avia, they restored what was effectively nothing more than a ruin and piece of abandoned land. With a loan to buy machinery and little winemaking knowledge, they forged a risky and passionate partnership that would forever change their lives – and the destiny of that abandoned land.
They replanted their first vines in 2008 and had their first productive harvest four years later, in 2012. With a focus exclusively on the local grapes, they work with the renowned whites (namely Albariño, Treixadura, Loureira and Caiño Branco) but also with the less known indigenous reds – Sousón, Caiño Longo, Brancellao and Ferrón. They have indeed gained a solid reputation for the precision and expressiveness of their reds, some of which are in sharp decline in the region and risk extinction.
The first years of the venture were hard and nearly led to the group’s financial collapse. But Diego stood firm and, while his brother and cousins took other jobs to support their families, he remained determined to make Cume do Avia his full-time commitment. Their luck changed in 2017 when the wines turned heads among American sommeliers and press. Cume do Avia gained international recognition, wide acclaim and – at last – the commercial success that allowed Diego and his partners to expand their plantings and range.
As part of this commitment to terroir and grape expressiveness, Diego follows organic and biodynamic principles. But he is pragmatic when it comes to certification: he acknowledges that the disease pressure in the region is immense, due to humidity, and some preventive measures are needed (mildew almost ruined their entire crop in 2016…)
Just one hour inland from Galicia’s western coast, Cume do Avia’s vineyards benefit from the trademark Atlantic influence. But a crucial part of their wines’ character is the minerality that is imparted, intensely and distinctively, by each of the different terroir that cross their plots. From granite to schist, slate or clay, eacxh plot has unique and most interesting geological profile. As their vines gain maturity, the complexity they can harness from these vineyards is finally coming into their own.
The determination, perseverance and commitment of the Colarte clan: it is this energy that forms the fundamental character of each of their wines.