Watch our “Meet the Producer” video capturing the essence of Perales de Valdueza estate in Extremadura, Spain (Marqués de Valdueza)–producer of olive oil, honey, wine, vinegar and the ancient Avilena breed of cattle. The Álvarez de Toledo family holds a rich sense of tradition while practicing sustainable farming and utilizing modern technology.
Since 1624, the Álvarez de Toledo family has been operating their Perales de Valdueza estate in Extremadura, Spain–a site that has a 2,000-year-old legacy of producing olive oil, and 400 years of wine-making history. Right from the beginning, the Perales estate established beautiful vineyards and began the honorable family endeavor of wine production. Recently, at the beginning of this century, Álvarez de Toledo y Urquijo and his son, Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo y Argüelles, replanted the vineyard and constructed a modern winery allowing the new vintages to fully express the elegant and ancient terroir of rugged Extremadura.
The family has continued to evolve and expand their products and practices, combining these rich traditions with modern facility updates, and a strong commitment to the environment through rewilding and permaculture.
Fadrique, director of the company, says, “We are a family business and our main objective is to achieve the maximum quality for our products. To do so, we are always studying which are the best and most modern agriculture techniques, but we always try to combine innovation with tradition.”
Rogers Collection offers their four varieties of honeys (Orange Blossom, Heather, Wildflower, and Holm Oak), Marques de Valdueza olive oil, a later-harvest oil called Merula, and a French oak barrel aged red wine vinegar. (The vinegar is made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes from their vineyard).
And the estate is doing so much more–a company integrating traditional agricultural practices with modernity and social and environmental responsibility. They are very active members of the European Landowners Organization (ELO wildlife estates) which is “committed to promoting a sustainable and prosperous countryside and to increasing awareness relating to environmental and agricultural issues.”
Fadrique knows the importance of innovation while honoring and respecting the land. “As important as it is to have one of the most technologically advanced olive mills in Europe, without the complicity we have with Nature on our land,” he says, “our products would not be what they are nor have the qualities that people have come to expect from Marqués de Valdueza.” He adds, “While the cutting-edge, sparkling clean machinery at our mill enamors me, it is our love for the land and the flora and fauna that populates it that truly makes our products what they are.
The Perales estate raises an autochthonous–or indigenous–breed of cattle called Avileña Negra Ibérica and the family is, in fact, founders of the Asociación de Raza Avileña Negra Ibérica, an entity that integrates farmers, promotes the breed and establishes relationships with public administrations. The Perales estate practices the old tradition of transhumance, taking the livestock in the summer from the lower grazing grounds of the estate in Extremadura where the grass has dried up into the cooler mountains in Avila for fresh grass, and returning in the fall, a 360 kilometer round trip.
Fadrique says, “[The cows] eat what grows from the land. That gives a very special and natural beef….and the fat that is in the meat is very good. It is similar to the fat that you get at the real Iberico ham, because they also eat acorns.”
“So, it’s the cycle,” says Fadrique of the transhumance tradition. “It’s always like this.”
The cyclical aspects of the land, animals, growing, harvesting and practices of Marques de Valdueza is at the core of all they do.
The Merula blackbird—the name and image of their late-harvest olive oil–is symbolic of that rhythmic and eternal nature. Fadrique says, “[It] is a very important bird for us because, on the one hand, he eats the flies that attack the olives and, on the other hand, he also eats the olives. So, at the end, he makes a natural balance. That’s why we are excited to have the blackbird.”
Written by Leska Tomash