Although Enrique Mendoza founded the winery in 1989, his son Pepe now runs the business, aided by his younger brother Julián. Pepe is responsible for vineyard management and winemaking, while Julián looks after the commercial side of the company.
So well respected is Enrique Mendoza that it was inducted into the prestigious Grandes Pagos de España. This group’s mission is to defend and propagate the culture of “pago” wine, meaning wine produced in a specific terroir that reflects the distinct personality of the soil and climate. To become a member, a vineyard must surpass strict quality standards and also exhibit a degree of uniqueness in terms of soil, climate or grape variety that sets it apart from the surrounding area. The association’s membership includes 25 estate wineries throughout Spain.
Location of Vineyard
Bodegas Enrique Mendoza is located near the town of Alfàs Del Pi, about 45 miles from the city of Alicante, and is surrounded by breathtakingly landscaped gardens. Most of the vineyards are located near Villena at an average of 1200 feet elevation, with some parcels as high as 2100 feet. Traditional plantings include Monastrell and Moscatel, although recently Pepe has experimented with international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The resulting wines are typically fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak, with long maceration (up to 28 days).
Natural farming is prioritized at Enrique Mendoza. Indigenous yeasts are used, and insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers are avoided in favor of biodynamic practices. Pepe also emphasizes placing his vines under the optimal level of hydric stress to produce small, concentrated grapes; he uses computerized sensors to monitors moisture levels in the vineyard, adjusting irrigation accordingly.
José (Pepe) Enrique Mendoza Gracia has been participating in wine production from a young age, helping with harvest and grape pressing (using a 300-year-old, Roman-style wine press) at Bodegas Enrique Mendoza. After declaring his vocation of oenology in secondary school, Pepe continued his studies at the Félix Jiménez de Requena School of Viticulture and Enology, and carried out his practicum with the Raimat and Masia Bach group. He was the first Spanish winemaker to work in New Zealand, where he worked Grove Mill in Marlborough Valley. He later worked in Argentina with Altavista and Achaval-Ferrer. In 1990, Pepe returned to Spain to manage Bodegas Enrique Mendoza with the help of his brother, Julián. Now a part of a new generation of winegrowers, Pepe’s fundamental objective at Enrique Mendoza is to attain grapes of the highest quality. All of the plants are nurtured using compost fertilizer and environmentally friendly practices, without insecticides or herbicides. Pepe’s belief is that great wine comes from a great vineyard.