Bodega Gonzalo Beltrán – the Vito 4x4 at the grape harvest. 

The Bodega Gonzalo Beltrán winery in southern Spain's Ronda stands for traditionally manufactured, high-quality organic red wine. In the mountainous hinterland of Andalusia, Auxiliadora López Beltrán relies on a Vito 4x4 from Mercedes-Benz.

Wine from an enclave in the province of Málaga.

On the side of a narrow track surrounded by trees, Auxiliadora López Beltrán parks her white Vito. It's peaceful out here, with a mild wind blowing through the vines in Ronda, Spain. Like chains, row upon row of vine lends the rough and, in part, untouched hinterland of Andalusia a coat of green. Auxiliadora walks along the grapevines as one would through a field of barley, every now and again wiping off a few grapes, smelling them and squeezing a grape before letting it fall from her hands. "Ronda is a very special place and not just because of its location," says the Spaniard pointing to the family's nearby La Nogalera farm shop, where the grapes are turned into red wine using traditional methods. On the one hand, the soil and the climate are really well-suited to growing grapes, and on the other hand, the enclave in the Málaga province draws in scores of tourists every year with its plentiful tourist attractions, idyllic natural landscapes, exciting history, vast amount of culture and, of course, wine which counts among the best types going.

Gonzalo Beltrán winery – family-owned since 1866.

At the Gonzalo Beltrán winery, Auxiliadora is responsible for "decisions concerning the work in the fields," as she puts it. Holding a green basket full of grapes, she stands on a piece of land which has belonged to the family since 1866. "It's been passed down from generation to generation," she says. But it was only Auxiliadora's grandfather Gonzalo Beltrán, who decided in 2004 to plant grapes here. A few years later, Auxiliadora took over the vineyard. 

Ronda – the birthplace of bullfighting. 

Around 100 kilometres east of the provincial capital Málaga lies Ronda, whose old town was built spectacularly on a steeply descending mountain plateau and which is only accessible by means of bridges. A 100-metre-deep gorge separates it from the new-town quarter El Mercadillo. The city is most famous for its bullfighting in Spain because it is here in the 18th and 19th centuries that the official rules of the sport were laid down. Plus, Ronda is home to one of the biggest and oldest arenas in all of Spain. Despite sitting at a high altitude, daytime temperatures here can be as high as 16 degrees Celsius during winter months. In summer, the mercury rise to 30 degrees and above. The idyllic mountainous landscape with the Sierra de las Nieves and the Sierra de Grazalema nature reserves offers the perfect backdrop for hiking enthusiasts. Plus, in the area around the city there are a number of other sights to be seen.     

Auxiliadora places great value on organic cultivation.

"Initially, I used to just sell our grapes to nearby wineries," tells Auxiliadora. But then she came to the idea of using the fruit to make her own wine. But what sort? It shouldn't be an ordinary, everyday wine. Such a wine wouldn't do justice to the tradition and history of the farm, she explains. The answer was to be a high-quality red wine which embodies the region. In essence, an organically produced wine which doesn't damage the ground. "Perezoso" is its name and Auxiliadora sells both red and rosé variants of the wine.

A noble wine – hand-picked and produced according to traditional methods.

Anyone who opts for a wine from Gonzalo Beltrán can rest assured that every single grape in it was hand-picked. And instead of chemicals, the family-run business uses ecologically compatible substances. Auxiliadora is committed to protecting nature. "That's why we adopt traditional agricultural methods," she says. In its peak phase, she only needs a maximum of ten employees. "We love our land, treat nature with respect and don't want to intervene in the ecosystem. We care for our fruits – and you can taste that."

Bodega – a Spanish natural wine cellar.

    The Spanish word "Bodega" used to refer to a storage cellar or vaulted cellar. Later the term took on another meaning: it is now also associated with "wine cellars" or "wine traders". The majority of rural Bodegas came about before the 20th century at a time when the rural population had to be self-sufficient. Appropriate cellar rooms were therefore simply carved out of the rock, often with a walled entrance partially above ground with stones and a thick layer of earth on top of it.

Quality you can taste.

"We love our land, treat nature with respect and don't want to intervene in the ecosystem. We care for our fruits – and you can taste that."

Age-old systems collect fresh water.

The wine is "quiet and leisurely in taste", says the Spaniard. The ground in Sierras de Málaga: as dry and dusty as the climate. Water for the cultivation thus comes from the nearby Guadalevin river or from the irrigation system from the end of the 19th century which collects water before subsequently distributing it. This system is still used even today. And here too, it's about working sustainably. 

Gorges, bridges and steep hillsides.

Ronda is 720 metres above sea level. Anyone who visits the town shouldn't be afraid of precipices. After all, the town with its distinctive white houses is surrounded by numerous gorges. The town with its population of around 37,000 inhabitants is split in two by the famous El-Tajo gorge. Three bridges connect the old town with the new town. Some houses were built directly onto the rocky outcrops, with not even so much as a single centimetre separating the imposing walls from the abyss. Numerous peoples have inhabited the small town over the decades. "These influences have given the area its character; they don't just distinguish the people but, of course, also our wine," says Auxiliadora.

The Vito 4x4 is ideal in this mountainous area.

Mountainous areas such as this call for a van which can handle the difficult conditions with perfection. And that's one of the reasons which led Auxiliadora to select the Vito 4x4 from Mercedes-Benz. In particular its all-wheel-drive system does a great job at handling the difficult terrain. "The Vito is very reliable, manoeuvrable and versatile," says the Spaniard. "Sometimes we use it for transporting our grapes or machines, and sometimes we use it to transport our guests from one place to another." A vehicle which is as hard-working, reliable and durable as the people of Ronda, finds Auxiliadora. Her recipe for success: "You need lots of patience and a love of the land and fellow human beings." That doesn't just hold true for wine but also for life in general.

Hand-picked quality.

Auxiliadora loves her work in the vineyards.

From the vine to processing.

The Vito 4x4 transports the harvest to a nearby press house.

Vineyards near Ronda.

The vines give the dry area around Ronda a coat of green.    

Auxiliadora puts her trust in the Vito 4x4.  

She especially likes the van's versatility.

Quality right down to the last drop.

When it comes to wine, Auxiliadora leaves nothing to chance.

Photos:

Florian Gemmrig

More links to discover:

Bodega Gonzalo Beltrán - www.bodegagonzalobeltran.com, @Facebook

The conversions shown were made by independent third-party providers. The providers and the conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. The photos in no way serve as an evaluation by Mercedes-Benz of the provider and/or conversions in question.

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