Barrel sustainability at Muga. A trip to the cellar and tasting with Jorge Muga

By Tobias Webb

Here’s a photo tour of Muga, in Haro, Rioja, where I visited with some friends in October 2017. The winery is seriously impressive. The sheer number of coopers working in the barrel manufacturing area must be tough for anyone to surpass. I’ve been to wineries in Bordeaux where one or two coopers work there, but to have eight (if memory serves me right) experts working in that area must be more or less unrivalled anywhere in the world.

Jorge Muga was a thoughtful and insightful host, explaining that given the size of Muga’s operations, and Tempranillo’s important relationship with oak, he’s able to take his wood very seriously indeed. At Muga they select the trees in the European forests, or at least the areas of forest (I think the former) years, and I mean years, before they are harvested, then  take great interest in how the wood is aged, until it’s delivered, where they make some of their own barrels (barriques more than the larger) to exactly the specifications they need.

I’ve been to a fair few wineries, but never seen an operation and attention to oak like this, with such long term planning and direct traceability. Seriously impressive, as are the wines. Check the links in this post or the photos below if viewing online, for a bit of a tour and to see the wines we tasted. And yes the wines were superb, and age beautifully. The 1991 in particular, is one of the best five wines I’ve had from the region.

Wines and Vineyards of La Rioja

About the author

Tobias Webb

Toby Webb is co-founder of Sustainable Wine. He is also founder of Innovation Forum, a leading platform for change in sustainable supply chains. He has spent 20+ years working in business and sustainability and has spent ten years teaching the subject at various London universities. He advises a number of companies large and small on sustainability. Businesses he has worked with include Patagonia, Interface, Bayer, SOK Group, Boots/Walgreens, Metro, Unilever, Nestle, Reckitt Benckiser, Sainsbury’s, and many others. He co-authored the UK’s national CSR strategy for David Cameron from 2006-10. He has been organising events, advising, teaching writing, blogging and podcasting on sustainable business since 2001. His (non-wine) blog is at