On Tues April 5th 2011, I got the chance to meet with Victoria Ordonez, sister to Spanish wine importer Jorge Ordonez. After an always amazing lunch at Taverna, I got a few minutes to ask her a little more about the Jorge Ordonez import company, and her role within it.
So how long has the Jorge Ordonez import company been around?
About 23 years now.
And how long have you been involved with the company?
What took you so long?
<laughs> Oh, I was busy in my original career in the medical field. I got my PhD in 2001, and in more recent years I specialized in medical research management, working as Director of the European Office of the Research Foundation of Hospital Regional Carlos Haya and CEO of the foundation.
My father was a wine distributor in Malaga, Spain. When the industry of tourism started in Spain, from Malaga in the early 60’s. From an early age, my brothers were in the cellar or dealing with clients, and I was in the office. I remember I prepared my fathers first database of clients using little flip-cards in a box. It was a mess before organized it! I did that when I was about 12. So I have always been very involved in the wine business, even though I decided to first get into the medical field.
So how do you fit into the company now?
I started running a winery in Malaga, and that is how I got involved in the company. Then gradually I got more and more involved in their projects. In December I started running our two wineries in Galithia. Besides that, I represent all Jorge Ordonez’s interest in Spain, and when I’m abroad I represent all his wineries and his partner wineries. But most of the time I’m wearing my boots and jeans in the vineyard.
My brothers business, the Jorge Ordonez import company continued the work that my father started more than 50 years ago in Malaga. If there is something that can describe the Jorge Ordonez and how it is different from others, it would that his focus only on Spanish wines and his focus on quality. The wines that he chooses to export is based solely on quality.
So is Jorge still actively involved in the winemaking side of things?
He first started to get involved in the winemaking side of things when he first tasted the wines in Spain and they tasted great. He then tasted the wines when they had been imported into the United States, and they tasted like….sh*t.
So his first contribution was to make the wine transport from Spain temperature controlled. I think that has had a huge impact on the Spanish wine industry.
The second thing is that he started to collaborate with wineries to improve the presentation of the wines, to make the packaging more appealing to the customers. The thing is that the Spanish wines were and still are great, but it didn’t show from the outside.
I personally think a perfect example of that is with the Botani Moscatel [photo on right and a Jorge Ordonez wine]. I can’t say that people are banging on wine retailers’ doors to get their Moscatel, but the Botani is obviously a great wine. I don’t think that most people would have have even made that first step to taste it if it wasn’t for the label. I think it illustrates the taste of the wine perfectly.
Exactly! Well as you probably know, there’s a lot of recent research to show that people buy wine for the label and the overall packaging. Jorge actually had started to implement this concept long before any research came about, from his own experience.
The more Jorge got involved in the winemaking side with the wineries he was working with as an importer, he also really started to become more involved in the final blend. He felt that the final blend of a wine was a key factor toward the success or failure of a wine in the market. So there was a moment in the 1990’s that he decided to make wine with his partners in Malaga.
So in Jorge’s business there are both sides: I’m in the winemaking side, but he’s still the one that decides the final blend, purchases the barrels, the naming of the wines, and the presentation and labels etc.
I know you have obviously only been actively involved with the company since 2004, but what do you think the biggest changes have been in the industry?
In the past few years what we have seen in Spain, and indeed around the world is a terrible financial crisis, that has had devastating events on wineries that aren’t exporting their products to other markets.So all these wineries that sell only in Spain, they thought that they didn’t need to open to other markets, most of them are done. That is one of the biggest things I have seen. Wineries that thought they could tough it out, only to find that they needed to get their wines out to other countries.
How many different wines are there with the Jorge Ordonez import company?
Well, about 40 wineries making anywhere from 2-3 wines up-to about 23 wines. Too many to count!
Ok, so if you had to choose a favorite meal, or your last meal, what would it be?
To be honest, and this is going to sound terrible, but I’m not that crazy about a last meal as I am about a book!
<laughs> Ok,…your last book then.
Iliad by Homer.
Look for the Jorge Ordonez name on the back label of Spanish wines. I’m a huge fan, and find all of their wines to be exceptional quality and great value.
For more information on Victoria Ordonez, visit her website at : http://victoriaordonez.wordpress.com/