Fun in the Sun at Ventosilla

by James Dent

Having been a sporting agent for some 21 years now it is easy to forget sometimes just how special some destinations are. I was lucky enough to be returning with long standing guests to one of my all-time favourite Spanish shooting estates Ventosilla back in early February and I was reminded of what a fabulous trip this is.


For me February is an odd time of year, the UK season has come to a close and Spring is still seemingly a way off. So, what better time to visit Spain for a much-needed hit of vitamin D and some fast-paced partridge shooting!


From the moment you land in Madrid shoot co-owners Antonio and Carlos together with their team ensure everything runs seamlessly, and nothing is too much trouble. It is just a short transfer of just over an hour to the estate from Madrid and just 20 minutes West of historic Toledo. We arrive around 6pm, are shown to our quarters, and then rapidly make our way downstairs for well-earned refreshments. Antonio joins us for pre-dinner drinks, with delicious tapas canape’s and the obligatory Iberico ham which is simply the best. All the food at Ventosilla is fantastic and after a three-course dinner, retire to the fireside where  for coffee, cigars and an after dinner drink.


The “Castle” as it is known, oozes old school charm and character, originally built as a hunting lodge for the Cardinals of Toledo in the 17th century.

The ancestors of the current custodians started driven partridge shooting on the estate, which covers some 3,000 hectares, in around 1880! So, running a first-class sporting operation is truly in their blood, and it shows in the delivery! Whilst it would be fair to describe Ventosilla as a commercial shoot, it really exhibits its class with the hospitality which feels anything but, and some UK shoots could learn a thing or two from these operators.


After a leisurely breakfast we assemble at the grand entrance at 9am to meet our loaders and secretarios. We have clear blue skies, and the day promises to be hot, although there is a distinct morning chill in the air still, and I always recommend clients to take layers, as shoot days here in February can start around one or two degrees rising to as much as twenty-five in the afternoons.

The format of the days here is much the same as the UK, with two initial drives followed by “Taco” which I can only describe as elevenses on steroids! The house team have set up some of the best tapas, with seating around a fire, which slips down well with an ice-cold beer in the warm winter sunshine – life doesn’t get much better. The terrain here is varied, I would not describe Ventosilla as solely a high bird shoot, although there are some exceptionally high drives, what it excels at is the sheer variety, everything from snap shooting in deep rocky gullies, to deep high sided valleys showing UK style birds and some more in the traditional Spanish style, which allows them to cater for all their client’s requirements. Each drive offers something different but, in all cases, the sport is fast paced and exciting.


Today we have opted to shoot through as the temperatures are set to climb quite high in the afternoon (Normally we would stop for lunch on the first day), so after a further two drives we stop for a slow roast suckling pig lunch by the river Tagus. Some guests opt to go back to the house for a sleep or massage, whilst the remainder of us enjoyed a few hours by the river putting the world to rights.

Our second evening was another cracker, and Chef Roberto produced another outstanding dinner, one thing is for sure, you may need to go on a diet when you return from this trip…


The next day followed a similar format with a slightly earlier start, two drives before taco in the field, one grand finale third drive and we headed back to the house to shower change and pack, before enjoying a beautifully relaxed lunch of paella in the sunshine, by the pool.


In the mid-afternoon we headed back to Madrid for our flight home, really what could be easier and for those of you that have never shot partridge in Spain before – I can highly recommend it! Madrid is a wonderful city, full of culture and superb eateries, so if you are not on a tight schedule you can extend the trip with a few nights in the capital or in the beautiful ancient former capital of Toledo.


Bag sizes start at 1200 over two days at Ventisolla, which makes the entry point quite expensive at €91,475, but in fact within the price everything is included, from transfers, accommodation with all food and drinks, hire guns and cartridges, everything except tips and flights, so value wise it does stack up quite well and its honestly hard to think of anything more fun in February!


The season in Spain runs from September to end of March and we have an excellent portfolio of shoots to cater for all needs. To discuss a trip to Spain for next season and the variety of estates we offer there please contact the team to discuss your requirements.