More than 2,000 years ago, Roman troops discovered that the mineral-rich soil of Bierzo, Spain, not only covered veins of gold, but served as an excellent place to plant their favorite vines.

Today the rich, full-bodied products of Bierzo are being imported to the United States by businesspeople not ordinarily connected to wines, but well-respected in the fields of land development and building: the Newton family, of Melbourne-based Newton Land Development.

Members of the family first entered the wine business about five years ago, when clients of the development business inquired about its proprietors’ limited edition wines, according to David Newton, president of Newton Development Group and vice president of Somo, Inc., which produces granulated rubber.

Under the name Got Vino (wwww.gotvino2.com), the company imports and distributes wines from Cigales, Rueda, Ribera del Duero, and the familiar Rioja as well as Bierzo, which according to a story by New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov in 2006, “deserves the spotlight.”  It also does private and charity labeling and is responsible for the “Spirit of Freedom” wines, labels of which depict scenes of the U.S. military.

“I lived in Spain for 15 years and kind of started (with wines) on the side,” David Newton says. “(Importing) first started when Omni (operator of the hotel chain) sent people to Spain to check out the wines and so our Spanish wines went to hotels. We’ve worked with restaurants in Orlando as well as Omni and we’ve also done special events. For example, we’ve been at the Masters (golf tournament) for two years now.”

That Bierzo’s wines should be creating such a buzz among oenophiles is fine with Newton, who says that for years, they were created almost strictly for local consumption.

“People are discovering Spanish wines in general and finding that they are good drinking wines, very bold and full-bodied,” he says.

Thus, business is picking up, and Newton has assembled a graphics team to design and create private labels, in addition to the colorful ones that now grace its bottles.

“We’re doing well. We’ve had a number of tastings and the Bierzo wines have gone over well. We think we have something good here.

Wines imported and distributed by Got Vino:

Bierzo (reds):

— Torosol

— Castro Bergidum Mencia 2005

— Castro Bergidum Roblen 2003

— Encomienda Templaria Crianza 2002

— Encomienda Templaria Reserva 2001

Rueda (white):

— Sanz Classico 2006

Rioja (reds):

— Gomes de Segura Joven 2005

— Gomez de Segura Crianza 2004

Ribera del Duero (red):

— Melior 2006

Cigales (red):

— Val de los Frailes Joven 2006

In a bottle, the Spirit of Freedom.

The Newton family is a patriotic one, having its share of current and past members of the military.  To celebrate the achievements of the country’s uniformed men and women, it started “Spirit of Freedom” wines, specially painted labels celebrate the country’s military heritage with 50 cents from the sale of each bottle going to the Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund.

The wine is a Bierzo product, made of 100 percent Mercia grapes: intense, persistent and smooth, with hints of candied fruits, cherry and blackberry.