Pazo Baión 1752-2023. From autarky to the export of Albariño wines

Pazo Baión has become a space for wine tourism and a winery that is committed to the export of albariños

The Ensenada Cadastre shows us what Pazo Baión was 300 years ago and allows us to observe how it has been transformed into a winery where wine tourism and the export of Albariño wines stand out

History is fundamental not only to understand how our ancestors were and how we got here but also to understand how we are and to use this knowledge to write our future. For this reason, at Pazo Baión, we know the relevance of carrying the legacy of an estate with five centuries of history. An estate that has been a privileged witness to the transformation of Galicia, Spain and the world. What was originally an autarkic noble property, today is an innovative project that combines the production, marketing and export of Albariño wines with an offer of wine tourism focused on preparing unforgettable experiences.

The world has changed… and Pazo Baión has changed with it. However, thanks to a key 18th-century project throughout Spain, we can know precisely what Pazo Baión was like almost 300 years ago, in 1752, to be exact. In that year, the Ensenada Cadastre was published, which reflects the use that was given to the land on the property of Pazo Baión.

Today, we will travel from the 18th century to the present day. From a pre-capitalist society to a global and digital world. From a farm focused on the cultivation of vines, but also chestnuts and vegetables to a project in which the export of Albariño wines plays a transcendental role.

Please fasten your seat belts and enjoy this journey in our time machine.

Pazo Baión circa. 1750. A noble estate where winemaking was already important

The 18th century marks the end of the Ancien Régime. The French and American revolutions are the most striking examples of regime change throughout the West. Still, the truth is that in Spain, the end of the economic, political and social model of the Ancien Régime and the arrival of liberalism, the dominant thought throughout the 19th century, were also on the horizon.

The tension between the world that was coming to an end and the one that was struggling to emerge was clearly shown in the failed project to establish a single tax in all the territories of the Crown of Castile (except for the Basque provinces, the floral kingdom of Navarre and the Canary Islands) in the middle of the 18th century. This project sought to unify and homogenize taxes in the Crown of Castile, rationalizing the Treasury to modernize the state. Pazo Baión was, at that time, part of the parish of Bayón in the province of Santiago and was, therefore, part of this ambitious project.

The Ensenada Cadastre

The first step to start up the unique contribution was to carry out a census that would allow us to know with precision the properties and economic activities existing in the territories of the Crown of Castile. King Ferdinand VI entrusted this arduous work to the Marquis of Ensenada, which is why today we know this profuse and complex study as the Ensenada Cadastre. Through a form composed of 40 questions, the people in charge of conducting the survey probed questions such as the type of land in each parish, livestock, population census, taxes or industrial and commercial activities.

Today, the Ensenada Cadastre is considered the oldest survey of the towns of the Crown of Castile and a fundamental pre-statistical study to understand the society and economic system of 300 years ago.

Even though the establishment of the single contribution did not come to fruition due to the resistance shown by the actors with privileges in the Ancient Regime, the Ensenada Cadastre is a historical document of priceless value. Among its thousands and thousands of pages, there are 800 dedicated to the small parish of Bayón, whose nerve center was the old Casa de Fontán, an icon of the entailed estate of the same name and which today we know as Pazo Baión.

The Ensenada Cadastre allows us to see what Pazo Baión was like in the past, before it became a place for wine tourism and the export of Albariño wines

The Fontán entailed estate

Nobility is part of Pazo Baión’s DNA. Until the indiano Adolfo Fojo Silva bought the property in the second decade of the 20th century, Pazo Baión was in the hands of several noble families: the Sarmiento, the Varela Sarmiento and the Counts of Prague. This makes our estate an ideal place to discover the history of the noblemen, whose presence is evident in such iconic elements as the heraldry of the pazo building itself.

Juan Manuel Varela Sarmiento, the nobleman who held the entailed estate when the Ensenada Cadastre was drawn up, owned not only the property of the old Casa de Fontán but also had other properties and rents. In fact, according to the cadastre, it had up to 28 hectares of land throughout the parish, which provided income from corn, rye, bread and even chickens. To this must be added the ownership of five peasant houses and a mill.

In return, the Fontán estate had to pay various taxes, from 12 ferrados of rye and nine menudo to the abbot of the parish, to 10.5 ferrados of bread to the Cabildo of Santiago.

This economic panorama of Fontán’s entailed estate gives us a perfect glimpse of how economic and social relations operated in the Ancien Régime and the role played by the peasants, the nobles and the Church.

The parish of San Juan de Bayón

In 1752, the parish of Bayón was inhabited by 288 neighbors. Among the artisans, carpenters (six) and tailors (five) stood out, while in the commercial sphere, there were six tavern owners and six tobacconists. There were few titled people, but even so, there was a notary, three notaries and a surgeon.

This census on the dedication of the inhabitants of Baión shows us the socioeconomic reality of the parish: most of its inhabitants were peasants, and agricultural and livestock activities were the economic engine.

Regarding the hidalgos, it is noteworthy that only four lived there. However, many others had land and rents in the same. Such is the case of the nobleman above the Fontán estate, who was «a neighbor of the city of La Coruña». This is yet another indicator of how the society of the time functioned.

A pre-capitalist economic model

The Ensenada Cadastre does not limit itself to drawing a panoramic view of the parish of Bayón but also describes the fundamental characteristics of the old Casa de Fontán, which today is the property of Pazo Baión.

The main building, the pazo, was valued according to the cadastre of 30 reales de vellón, a very high rent at that time. But the really interesting data of this census revolves around the use of a property’s land with 263 ferrados of capacity. This translated to our measurements of about 13 hectares dedicated to agricultural purposes.

Almost half of this area (109 ferrados) was destined for oak pastures. In addition, 45 ferrados were used for sowing cereals, two for vegetables, two and a half for fruit trees, and 10 for chestnut trees. These trees played a transcendental role in the Galician economy since chestnuts were a staple food for centuries, the predecessors of potatoes, which came from America.

What about the vineyards, weren’t their vineyards at Pazo Baión? Of course, there were. The vineyards occupied 50 ferrados of the estate, which is a good example of the importance of winemaking throughout history. In addition, we can know that already at that time, white vines predominated, i.e., Albariño.

These data show that Pazo Baión was, at the end of the Ancien Régime, a prototypical agricultural exploitation that aspired to the economic ideal of that time: autarky. That is to say, to produce all the necessary goods so as not to need to acquire anything abroad.

With the emergence of capitalism and the industrial revolution, autarky gave way to the market economy and, in the last century, to the export boom. Pazo Baión bears witness to this. Today, in addition to making wine for the domestic market, our winery export of Albariño wines to different countries worldwide. Moreover, we have e-commerce and receive visitors from abroad.

The Ensenada Cadastre records the economic activities of Bayón, very different from those of today, in which the export of Albariño shines

The wine was already there: The legacy of a world that no longer exists

As we have just pointed out, data from the Ensenada Cadastre show that if there is one constant in the history of Pazo Baión, it is undoubtedly the cultivation of vines and winemaking. Already in 1752, more land was devoted to vineyards than to growing cereals, with the importance that these had in the economy, livestock and food of the people.

When we say that our albariños have five centuries of history, we do not say it trivially.

The panorama drawn by this pioneering statistical study can still be traced today. Three hundred years later, Pazo Baión is still marked by fire by what it once was. Its history is fixed in the stones of the pazo, the dovecote or the hórreo. The knowledge of our ancestors has reached our days through the elaboration of the wine.

Despite all the scientific and technological advances of the last century, the tradition is still present in how the vines are cared for and protected. The grapes are harvested, and the only single-estate Albariños. Wines made solely and exclusively with the grapes of the property, a beautiful heritage of a world that was, but no longer is.

Pazo Baión today: Wine tourism and export of Albariño wines to many countries

How much has Pazo Baión changed since the times of the Marqués de la Ensenada? The short answer is a lot. Or, if we get superlative: a lot. On our property, which is larger than it was three centuries ago, we no longer grow cereals or vegetables or collect chestnuts. Now, the spaces of Pazo Baión are focused on two central activities:

  • The production, marketing and export of Albariño wines through the vineyards and the winery facilities.
  • The offer wine tourism plans, making the most of the natural spaces of Pazo Baión, its history and the quality of our award-winning Rías Baixas.

Thus, the vineyards, which were already important in previous centuries, have become the real protagonists of a property in which the inhabitants of the eighteenth century could still recognize the world they occupied, not only because of the imposing presence of the pazo, but also because of the many corners that are still present, such for example, the fruit trees.

Past, present and future merge in our small universe. Memory dances with innovation. And the society and economy of the past give way to a project open to the world, which is committed to the export of Albariño wines and attracting visitors from all over the world to discover the heart of the Rías Baixas.

The production and export of Albariños wines

Tradition is one of the driving forces behind the Pazo Baión project. The professionals of our winery gather the millenary tradition of winemaking and transform it by implementing the most cutting-edge technological advances and all the scientific knowledge generated in recent years.

The cultivation of the vine and winemaking maintains the essence of the tradition but has been completely transformed. If the inhabitants of the Baión of 1752 were to travel to the present, they would be amazed.

The Pazo Baión winery facilities are evidence of the balance between the past and the future. Next to lustrous, century-old stone pillars, we can find state-of-the-art machinery and devices, such as the concrete egg used in the aging of Vides de Fontán.

The pruning of the vines is still done by hand and in an artisanal way, as it was 300 years ago. However, Pazo Baión’s viticulture team has greater knowledge of the vines, the soil, the minerals and the climate.

Pazo Baión wines are still made with grapes from the property, but their destination is no longer self-consumption, payment of rent or local consumption. In addition to marketing our wines in the Spanish market, our winery is committed to export of Albariño wines worldwide: United States, Japan, United Kingdom… Globalization and improving mobility and communications allow us to bring the fruit of our work to every corner of the planet.

By export of Albariño wines, we disseminate the tradition and ancient wisdom beyond our borders in places our ancestors could never have imagined.

The concrete egg is a cutting-edge technology that we use in the aging of Vides de Fontán

An enotourism space open to the world

The history of Pazo Baión resonates not only in the winemaking process but also in the creation of a wine tourism space in the Rías Baixas based on three main pillars: the importance of history, the splendor of the natural environment of Pazo Baión and the quality of our wines. All of Pazo Baión’s wine tourism plans include:

  • A bucolic walk through the natural corners of the property: the vineyards, the palm grove, the orange grove promenade, the gardens…
  • A guided tour of the winery’s facilities to see how critically acclaimed wines are made and which, thanks to the export of Albariño wines, can be enjoyed by wine lovers worldwide.
  • A guided tasting of Pazo Baión and Condes de Albarei wines to discover all their secrets through the visual, olfactory and taste phases.

Thus, Pazo Baión not only opens to the world through the export of Albariño wines but this historic corner of Galicia has been rehabilitated and conditioned to welcome people from all over the world. Over the last 15 years, we have received visitors from countries thousands and thousands of miles away. If in the past, Pazo Baión was an example of Galicia in the 18th century; now it is an example of Galicia in the 21st century.

Proud of our history

The production of the only single-estate albariños and the commitment to quality wine tourism demonstrate a central issue for the Pazo Baión project: to feel proud of our history. Not all wineries and wine tourism spaces have the immense good fortune of boasting a history of five centuries. An exciting and traceable journey thanks to priceless documents such as the Ensenada Cadastre.

Every corner of Pazo Baión has a little piece of history. All the spaces that make up the property tell a part of how the world was in previous centuries. Time passes inexorably and transforms our way of living, working and relating to each other.

Pazo Baión is no longer a noble property focused on producing goods in an autarchic way. It is an innovative project focused on the production of high-quality wines, the export of Albariño wines and the offer of unique wine tourism experiences. And yet, everything that this property was in the past still beats in the heart of this small universe.

We hope you have enjoyed this journey through the centuries. And we hope to see you soon at Pazo Baión.



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