Food & Wine: Mercedes and Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia

Courtesy of R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia

Mercedes & Maria José López de Heredia

The Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink

Bodegas López de Heredia


Sometimes the most disruptive strategy is not to change. Technological advances in winemaking and a worldwide growth in interest has resulted in a wine market saturated with marketing-committee-designed, adjunct-infused bottles. But for influential (and stalwart) opposition to this trend, look to sisters Mercedes and Maria José López de Heredia of Bodegas López de Heredia in Spain’s Rioja region. Not only do they not use pesticides, commercial yeasts, or other chemical aids, their family never has; in fact, almost nothing has changed at the family’s bodega in the entire 140 years since it was founded. Mercedes and Maria José (together with their brother Julio César) have seen trends come and go, and they remain among the world’s most steadfast champions of a labor-intensive, organic approach that includes aging wines for up to two decades—in their labyrinthine, stone cellars—before releasing them. For decades, Lopez de Heredia was considered behind the times; a relic. That’s all changed. Thanks to Mercedes’ intense devotion to quality (as winemaker) and Maria José’s formidable skill at communicating their philosophy (she is general manager of the family company), a new generation of sommeliers and wine lovers around the world have made their wines more popular than ever before, to the point where new releases sell out practically overnight. “Being organic is a belief,” says Maria José. “It shouldn’t be an option but a must.”

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