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Tom Stuart-Smith: Ribera del Duero: wine, gardening and biodynamics

Peter Sisseck makes one of the most exclusive wines in the world. His most celebrated wine, Dominio de Pingus is produced in tiny quantities from old vines by biodynamic methods and sells for astonishing prices. The production is very labour intensive and there is more than one person employed in the vineyard for each barrel of wine made. In 2014 he built a farm, a cellar and visitor building to designs by Danish architect Henning Larsen and has been collaborating with Tom Stuart-Smith on the creation of a sustainable landscape around these buildings.

 

The idea from the outset has been to make a garden which only uses a minimal amount of water to establish plants and creates a dynamic changing landscape where self-seeding herbs, shrubs and trees form a successional community and one that will be very different in ten years from how it is now. There have been successes and some quite conspicuous failures! They discuss the project and the cross over between winemaking and garden making with Tim Richardson, a practiced consumer of the products of both.

Speaker Biographies

  • Tom Stuart-Smith

    Tom Stuart-Smith

    Tom Stuart-Smith read Zoology at Cambridge before completing a postgraduate degree in Landscape Design at Manchester University. After working with Hal Moggridge and then with Elizabeth Banks he set up his own practice in 1998.
    Projects include a number of large private gardens in the English countryside, including Broughton Grange and Woodperry in Oxfordshire, Mount St John in Yorkshire, Fort Belvedere in Windsor Great Park and a new garden at Windsor Castle commissioned by the Royal Household to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee. He was also responsible for the Landscape Masterplan at Trentham and the recasting of its Italian garden, the largest formal garden in England.
    More recent work includes the two hectare garden around the Bicentenary Glasshouse at Wisley for the RHS which was opened to the public by The Queen in June 2007. Tom has also designed a number of smaller inner city gardens including The Garden of Illusion at The Connaught and the Keeper’s House Garden at the Royal Academy of Arts. Tom continues to work on numerous overseas projects throughout Europe, India, USA and Caribbean.
    Tom has designed eight Gold Medal winning gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show and this includes three being awarded best in show. An exhibition on his work, the first about a living garden designer in the UK, was held at the Garden Museum in London in 2011.
    He writes occasionally for the Guardian, Financial Times and Telegraph, amongst others, and has lectured widely in the UK, Europe and USA.
  • Peter Sisseck

    Peter Sisseck

    Peter Sisseck was born in Denmark and has lived for the past 20 years in the Ribera del Duero, Spain where the winery Dominio de Pingus is located. His fascination for wine began at home with his parents and was later inspired, at the age of fourteen, by visiting his uncle, the renowned winemaker Peter Vinding, in Bordeaux. This moment ignited a life-long passion and directed his future path into the grapevines.

    He landed in Ribera del Duero in 1990 and took the post of technical director at the Hacienda Monasterio winery. Captivated with the contrasted and arid landscape, Peter developed a belief in the potential of the region for the creation of a high quality wine. What was supposed to be a short stay soon started to feel like home. His eager quest to find the perfect terroir of old exceptional vines was finally rewarded when he encountered the old vineyards of La Horra.

    The year 2006 brought the beginning of a new project. Seeing the shortage and disappearance of old vines in the Ribera del Duero (only 4000 vines left), Peter Sisseck put into motion the creation of his third wine, PSI. With the collaboration of wine growers and owners, this new modern wine is elaborated in harmony and respect for the biodynamic tradition of the vineyards with the input of modern technology in the winery. In 2010, Peter Sisseck ventured to France for a new challenge. Although it was a new beginning, it was also a return to his first French love, the Bordeaux region that he left 20 years ago. This newborn wine, named Chateau Rocheyron, is the fine result of the experience and care of its winemaker for traditionally grown vineyards and high quality innovation in the winery.

    Peter Sisseck lives on a farm in the Ribera del Duero.
Image: ©Hufton+Crow