Rippa Dorii Cielos de Castilla


The origin

of the name

Ecclesiam et domus sanctae Marieae de
Ripadorii, the origin of a name

Our Torreduero vineyard, located in the town of Torrecilla de la Abadesa in Valladolid province (DO Rueda), is one of the most iconic and extraordinary historic Rippa Dorii vineyards in Rueda. What’s more, it occupies the geographical and historical space which has allowed us to shape the major part of the philosophy of the Ontañón Family project for Castilian wines, the wines of the Duero.

This is a very special estate, occupying 121 hectares, with verdejo grafted onto a tempranillo stock planted between 1992 and 1994, with very poor, extremely deep, sandy soil which allows its roots to spread far into the ground. This vineyard, where Gabriel Pérez took the enormous step of grafting all the vines and preserve their impressive root system,  stands in a fascinating territory right on the extreme edge of the Rueda appellation, since the nearest vineyards already belong to the DO Toro.


José Manuel Rodríguez Montañés, in a study on Romanesque architecture in Valladolid, gives us an explanation of the name of the vineyard and the curious etymology of a unique and essential space in the history of Castilian wines.

The hamlet of Torre de Duero, Torreduero or La Ribera del Cubo –the different names by which it is known- is situated in a cutting on the Duero plain, downstream from Torrecilla de la Abadesa, around 45 km south-west of Valladolid. In the Middle Ages it was known as Santa María de Ribas de Duero, and belonged to the Bishopric of Zamora, whose clergyman, Martín Rodríguez, in 1233 confirmed possession of its churches in the diocese to the military Order of the Holy Sepulchre, reserving for itself the procurement, among others, of the church of Sanctæ Mariæ de Ripa Dorii. With the denomination of ‘La Ribera’ this place is cited among the demarcated boundaries with the settlement of the concord between the Monastery of Espina and the Council of Tordesillas, in 1267.

In his work ‘Arquitectura religiosa olvidada’ (Forgotten religious architecture), José María Arévalo explains that it is constructed on the edge of a fluvial terrace with a lovely view over the river course, downstream from the town of Torrecilla and on the same bank, the right. Until recently the people of Torrecilla called it La Ribera del Cubo, and in the Madoz land register it appears with the name Ribera de Torre Duero. This place name refers to the existence of a cubo or ancient rounded fortification in the form of a tower. It is very close to the Duero, at 450 m. on the right bank and is the meeting point of all the footpaths of the estate of La Ribera del Cubo.

Pascual Madoz, in the middle of the 19th century, mentioned the place named ‘Ribera de Torre de Duero’ as belonging to two private owners. It had a farmhouse and a church (consecrated to Our Lady of Sorrows) with its own parish, which served as the owners’ reception rooel om. (cuarto de presentación?) Juan Ortega Rubio makes a laconic reference to it when speaking about Torrecilla de la Abadesa as a hamlet of Torre de Duero, commonly known as “el Cubo”, possibly an allusion to the shape of the church, which we suppose to have been dedicated to Our Lady (Nuestra Señora), with the name of “Our Lady of Sorrows” being a more recent addition.


The author explains that what remains of the medieval church, nowadays deconsecrated and in private ownership, is a brick chancel, composed of a wide straight presbytery section and a semi-circular apse, the latter covered by a roughly plastered, vaulted niche, like the whole of the interior, and in a sorry state of repair. Typologically, these remains correspond to an inertial construction of Romanesque outlines, which can be dated to the second half of the 13th or beginning of the 14th century and with influences from the nearby examples of Mudejar architecture in Toro or Villalpando.

Ancient monastery of

Santa María

de Ribas de Duero

The estate and hamlet nowadays known as Torre Duero were, in former times, the monastery of Santa María de Ribas de Duero. It must have belonged to the Knight Templars of the Order of Jerusalem, then to the Holy Sepulchre and later to the Knights of the Order of Saint John, and still in the mid 19th century they were not under the jurisdiction of an ordinary bishop and came under that Order.

Later this name was dropped in favour of El Cubo or the Ribera de Torre Duero, names which refer to the military spirit of the institution that built it and the presence of a large semi-circular apse which may have been for defensive purposes. The date of its construction must have been prior to 1215 when documents refer to the church already having been built.

The expression «ecclesiam et domus sanctae Marieae de Ripadorii» contained in a document from 1215 provides precise dates for its construction. By the middle of the 14th century it already paid tributes to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Zamora, together with Fuentespreadas. But the absence of a Commander of Torre Duero in the General Chapters of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of 1488 and 1525 would lead us to think that its importance had declined and that it had become a simple farmstead. Until the 18th century the estate belonged to the Clarissan Sisters of Tordesillas, as part of their royal estate, until Carlos III sold it to a nobleman.

Currently only a ramshackle homestead still stands, where until the second half of the 20th century was inhabited by the settlers who worked on the farm, along with the chancel of a Romanesque church made of brick which could be classified as what is popularly known as Mudejar in style. Added to the apse, there must have been a body which served as the main nave, whose walls are preserved today in a dwelling and in the subsoil many remains of burials have been uncovered. The church, which was dedicated to Santa María from its foundation, was later dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows (19th century), and is now consecrated to Our Lady of the Rosary and performed the functions of parish church for the farming community in the hamlet until the exodus of the population.

Santa Maria de Rippa Dorii