Located in Sardón de Duero, just outside the boundaries of Ribera del Duero (although some areas lie within the appellation), Santa María de Retuerta is one of the historical estates in the region. Its beautiful abbey is a reminder of a winemaking tradition which faded and even disappeared. In 1996, the financial support of Novartis, the pharmaceutical group, helped to launch an ambitious project which now has 210 hectares under vine in the 700-hectare estate.
Although Tempranillo is the dominant variety, French varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and petit verdot are also meticulously planted in the slopes beneath the Douro river. As vinification is gravity-led, the winery uses small crane-operated tanks and each pago (parcel) is worked separately. Aging is all done in French oak.
The abbey has been completely restored and houses a 12th century Romanesque church and a luxurious five-star hotel called Le Domaine. It belongs to the Relais & Châteaux network and hosts a Michelin-starred restaurant. The hotel is at the centre of a comprehensive wine tourism offer which is gradually being widened.