|Surnames like Lizarraga, Urricelqui, Sola, Lacunza, San Martín, Huarte, Erviti and Echarte, the current owners of Nekeas, have been associated with vines and wine for generations and generations, as borne witness to by the wine presses and cellars that still exist in their family homes in Añorbe.
It was with great sadness that, weighed down by low prices and the rising cost of labour, chiefly due to the burgeoning urban industrialisation of the day, they all had to get rid of the vineyards inherited from their forebears during the crisis that rocked viticulture in the 1960s. They did not, however, lose their vocations as vine growers and years later, at the end of the 1980s, they decided to pool some of their lands and embark on a project to plant vineyards and make wine using a wide range of varieties of vine and a modern production facility.
In response to an invitation sent by the current Chairman, Francisco (Paco) San Martín, the heads of the families all got together for a teatime meeting held in his house at which he outlined a new project to pool land together and join forces to replant vines where they had once stood for centuries. They agreed to meet again a few days later to give their replies. Paco thought that, between them, they would manage to draw together some 50 hectares, so he could not be more surprised when he discovered that the final figure came to 160 hectares.
It was obvious that when someone grows up amongst vines, its stays in the blood.No sooner said than done; they got straight down to work: deciding on varieties, organising work together, machinery, bank loans……and in 1990, the 160 hectares were planted. And they all planted them together.
In 1992, the first grapes were harvested and, instead of selling them, the owners decided to use them to make wine. Once again, all together, they picked the grapes and took them to the old winery at the chairman’s house, where, in rudimentary fashion, they managed to make some 1,000 litres of white wine and 2,000 litres of red, which tasted like the best wine in the world to them all. Some oenologists they knew tried the wine and despite certain objections centring on how it had been made, they all saw the great potential that the grapes possessed.
Another meeting and another idea on the table: Shall we make a winery? The answer was unanimous: YES. In 1993, the winery was finished.
More than 20 years have passed since then. Along the way, we have planted another 100 hectares of vineyards and 220 of olive groves, and have built an olive mill alongside the winery. Some of those that started out with us are no longer here, but their children and grandchildren have followed in their footsteps.
We have lived through some hard times and are sure to have to face up to more, but we are confident that we are going to continue with the same hopeful enthusiasm that we have nurtured ever since day one; enthusiasm which not only have we maintained over all these years, but have managed to pass on to the younger generations.
Nekeas is now a blend of history and modernity thanks to the initiative of a set of families deeply rooted in their land and a good management team, Francisco San Martín as founder and Chairman, Manuel Urricelqui as Technical Head-General Manager and Concha Vecino as Oenologist, all linked with the project from the outset.