A New, Rewarding Life in Rioja

Share this page

Starting a new career in wine after studying for an unrelated degree has proven valuable to two young members of the Rioja community:  Marta Ortiz-Arce Vizcarro and Alex Las Heras.

Marta Ortiz-Arce describes her experience in her own words.

“I came to the world of wine accompanying Luis, my husband and winemaker from Bodega 202, to make a dream come true: make the best wine possible from scratch. Objective: “super wine”. Little quantity, great quality. Bodega 202 is a “dream come true” that started when the Rooney family, American winelovers walking the Camino de Santiago some years ago, decided to create this beautiful project. 

We started buying old vines, then we built an “ad hoc” winery to develop each vineyard independently and this year, finally, we have launched the first 2015 vintage of our two wines: Ansa and Aistear.

I was born in Madrid and, although I love to travel and I have lived almost two years in the Netherlands, I had my life quite settled in Madrid for many years: my family, my friends, my work, my house ... But the fact that my mother passed away in 2014 made me think about the importance of seeking happiness at every vital step, and I thought that living in Rioja with Luis would make my daughters and me happier. After all, it is a quieter place where there is still something scarce in the big cities: time.

In addition, living close to nature is really a luxury. Enjoying the landscape, watching the seasons as they pass by, feeling that direct contact with nature working in the vineyard or enjoying the fresh food that abounds in this region ... That is a luxury.

So I left all that behind, including a good job for the Government of the Community of Madrid as a Forestry Engineer. I think that my training in environment and organic farming has made me always have nature as a source of inspiration.

Every day I strive to make the Bodega 202 project worthwhile, so that the fact that I have left so many things behind has a reward. It is important to seek happiness, but over time one realizes that happiness is built, it does not appear by magic if one does not do his part. Now, three years after joining the project, I feel that I continue to discover the wonderful world of wine and the small hidden jewels that this beautiful land offers.

My work in the cellar is very broad, focusing in Marketing, Sustainability and Administrative issues. It is quite a small and personal project. We are a small team launching the project, so we all have a versatile profile, doing almost any kind of task at the vineyard, at the winery or at a fair. “

Of all this, what I like most is to keep searching for the soul of Bodega 202, what makes us unique and special. We are still looking for it or, better yet, we are still building it."


Alex Las Heras, grapegrower from Medrano

Even though Alex’s family owns vineyards in Medrano, not far from Logroño in Rioja Alta, no one thought he would ever join the family business.  After studying Business Administration and doing an internship in a bank, Alex’s mother was sure that he would go on to a life as a banker. However, after signing a contract to work in a company, Alex surprised his family by deciding to become a grape farmer before his first day at the company.

Alex strongly believes that his studies have been valuable for his current profession.  Being an economist has earned him a place on the board of directors of ASAJA (the Young Farmers’ Association of Rioja) as well as a seat on the main board of the Rioja Regulatory Council and the presidency of the Administration, Finance, Personnel and Internal Control Committee at the Council.

For Alex, managing vineyards has a lot to do with managing a company, involving decisions about pruning, shoot removal, soil management,  pest control and deciding the optimum time to pick the grapes.  He describes his work as a vocation, something he loves and can’t imagine doing anything else.