Meet The Owner - Bodega Rubicon
We were lucky enough to spend the morning with Don Germán López Figueras recently. Don Germán is a legendary figure in Lanzarote wine, carrying on the tradition, while modernising and investing in the industry. To this day, he still leads by way of example. We have a three part series about the man himself and also his winery and project. We hope it reflects the Island's tradition, his passion and tireless hard work and dedication, and that of many others who have helped to create the natural wonder of La Geria.
Don Germán, today 84 years old, started working in agriculture as just a child! He is one of nine siblings who all helped their parents make a living in the field, working tirelessly everyday with agriculture and livestock. With so much work on the family fields, he barely went to school. Instead, he worked hard to open opportunities for himself and his family.
His father used to have around 70 vines, the grapes he stomped on himself with his family, making small amounts of wine. When Don Germán and his family would go out to their fields to care for and harvest their wheat, barley, peas, and other produce, they had to walk a long way in the cold and dark hours of the morning. To warm up, Don Germán’s mother used to give him and his siblings some wine, with gofio and sugar for breakfast.
At around 14 years old, he moved to Gran Canaria with his uncle to work in his bakery. The family would work mornings in the bakery, and nights at a restaurant. Don Germán later moved back to Lanzarote to enter the military service but, by 1960, Germán and his brothers had reopened a bakery and started a new business. They had 22 workers between two shifts, making and delivering bread personally before sunrise and getting to the mill to buy flour for the next day by closing time at 7 pm. It wasn’t easy, but Don Germán put in the hard work. So much so, that he managed to get himself to fairs in Germany every year for decades to buy new equipment for the bakery, at a time when international travelling (especially from the Canary Islands) was more of a legend than a possibility. This sparked his love of travelling, that he would later pass on to his children.
In 1979, he bought the historical La Geria Farmhouse, known today as Bodega Rubicon, the oldest winery of the world famous La Geria wine region. The land, building and close-by chapel were the remains dug up from the volcanic ash after the eruptions of Timanfaya (1730-36), which incidentally made viticulture possible in Lanzarote. It was the country house that gave the La Geria region its name, where the cultivation in pits began. Germán bought it to pursue his winemaking passion, but kept it closed and private, having get togethers, that even managed to host Adolfo Suárez, Prime Minister of Spain at the time.
Working hard as always, in 1990 with the help of his siblings, he started Lanzarote’s delegation of Pascual Milk, one of the biggest Spanish milk industries even to this day. He moved his focus to Pascual and became a salesman for the first plastic bottled water and tetra pack milk cartons in Lanzarote. He began to restore the farmhouse in ’95 in his free time, and in 2009, once finished with renovations, he stopped working for Pascual and gave way for what was to be Bodega Rubicon’s success story. Rubicon’s doors were now open, its’ wine available and its story not so hidden.
Don Germán himself says that he has always been happy. By barely going to school, he made up the time and learnings working hard every day. Now, as a father of three, he says that what he likes the most about all that he has done, is that he has managed to give his children the opportunities that he would have loved to have, or that he had to work tirelessly to obtain! That’s why he still wakes up at 6 am every day to work in the vineyards, at 84!
Today Bodegas Rubicon produces around 200,000 liters of wine in a typical year. The wine is produced by Alberto Gonzalez Plasencia, a young native Canarian, but of course all done under the watchful eye of Don German. Rubicon come a long way over the years, and particularly in more recent times. The Amalia brand, named after Don German's granddaughter is one of the most recognisable and cherished wines of the Island. It understandably proves very popular with clients on our Wine Tours here in Lanzarote and equally on our online Wine Shop in the UK & Ireland.
A big thank you to Mat Hay for the photos, who worked on this project with us.