Clara Verheij was born in Utrecht in 1962. She received her schooling in Oosterhout (St. Oelbert Gymnasium) and studied her university degree at the University of Utrecht, School of Social Sciences.
In 1985 she obtained her cultural anthropologist title, having presented her thesis on anthropological investigations conducted in Java (Indonesia). After various job positions – including that of Investigator for the Museum at the University of Utrecht – she began to consider the idea of moving to Spain. During four years she combined her professional work with her part-time studies in the field of Translation/Interpretation Dutch-Spanish, which she finished in 1995.
In that same year she moved to the south of Spain with her partner, André Both, where they bought an abandoned country estate in the countryside of Sayalonga. She carries out translations and teaches Spanish classes. In the year 2000 she opened the doors to the Santa Clara Language Academy in Cómpeta (Málaga). She employs teachers in the academy and offers classes in Spanish, English and German. In the first years in her new environment, Clara along with her partner, began to explore the surrounding vineyards, they planted new stocks on their land and bought more vines. With the help of winemakers of the surrounding centuries-old viticulture area “the Axarquía” of Málaga, they begin to accumulate knowledge on the Moscatel grape and the native Romé and begin to produce “land” wines as a hobby. With the help of André, she set up Bodegas Bentomiz in 2003 where their common fondness for wine became a professional enterprise. By 2007 it was impossible to continue with both enterprises and they both decided to dedicate 100% of their energies to the winery. Clara is a self-made cellar woman.
Her knowledge on the making of quality wines is based on her passion for good wines from around the world, her own experience in the field and the bodega, everything she has learned from her neighbors and fellow wine-makers and her literary studies. The enologist who has helped her the most is Francisco José Medina Pérez-Rejón, a veritable expert in with Denomination of Origin from Málaga and the Sierra of Málaga. Presently, Clara produces the Ariyanas wines, which continue to win awards and accolades, in the magnificent modern architectural building of the Bodegas Bentomiz, where she combines the production of the wines (below) with her gastronomic and enotourism experience in the restaurant, Sayalonga (first floor) since October 2018.
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