Located in the Province of Murcia, at the confluence of Muslim, Christian and Mediterranean cultures, lies the Jumilla DO. One of the oldest Designations of Origin in Spain, the wines have been regulated since 1966.
History Through the Grapevine
But well before then – in fact, for centuries – Jumilla has carried on an important wine tradition. Vines were grown in this area as early as the Hispanic Romanization (Hispania was the term given by the Romans to the Iberian Peninsula.)
It was in the middle of the 19th century that the phylloxera plague hit many vineyards, especially in France. This gave the wine industry in Jumilla a spectacular boost, increasing vineyards, which led to a significant rise in exports to neighboring countries.
There are currently 32,000 hectares of vineyards and around 3,000 registered grape growers in the Jumilla DO, 45% of which are in Murcia and 55% in Albacete.
Of these varieties, Monastrell is the most significant, as it represents over 85% of the vines planted. Monastrell is in fact the third most widely planted grape in Spain, and is found mostly along the Mediterranean coastline.
With over a dozen quality establishments making up the Wine Route of Jumilla, you’ll find the perfect spot to swish and spit. Wine libraries become meeting places to discuss and debate viticulture. Tasting workshops help you perfect your palate. Cellars open their doors to show you barrels of secrets.
The region is well known for its inexpensive, quality reds, that score big in wine magazines. But lately, Jumilla is getting press since the opening of Bodegas El Nido, a vineyard producing one of the most expensive wines in history. Other prominent wineries in the region include Juan Gil, Luzon and Agapito Rico.
The Arabs named the city of Jumilla “The Beauty” and it’s easy to see why. The region of Murcia, founded by the Moors in 825 AD, is called “Europe’s orchard” due to its long agricultural tradition as a fruits, vegetables and flowers producer and exporter. This varied landscape is a feast for the eyes and the stomach.
Cultural highlights include the Cathedral of Murcia and its bell tower. Standing over 300 feet tall with the weathervane, it’s the tallest campanile in Spain. The Holy Week processions are among the most famous in the country.
This traditional festival portrays the events that lead up to and include the crucification of Jesus. Statues by native son Francisco Salzillo are removed from museums and carried around the city. Life-sized and exquisitely detailed, they lend an air of elegance to this solemn salute.
Toast to your Travels
Jumilla is the name of the DO and a town, but there are other small villages home to wineries and wonder. Albatana is the smallest, and half of its farming population is dedicated to grape-growing. Located in the north of the DO, Montealgre del Castillo is an ancient town with a history spanning over one thousand years. Tiny Tobarra is famous for its moniqui variety of apricots and its tamboradas – or drum processions.
The Drive to See it All
It’s easy to see much of Spain by rail. With high-speed connections to big cities and slower-paced trains to saunter in smaller towns, the country puts you on track to many historic and cultural wonders.
Purchasing point to point tickets between each of your destinations is convenient and easy, particularly when purchasing in advance — this ensures lower pricing, more availability, and a convenient ‘Print at Home’ electronic ticketing format.
However, with this particular region of Spain, there is another aspect to consider before booking your rail tickets: even though the rail system in Spain is one of the most efficient in Europe, there are some places that are just so remote and quiet that it’s as if they’re taking a permanent siesta. And that’s where the car comes in.
With a Rail n’ Drive Pass, you can take the train until the tracks end and the road begins. The pass will cover enough rail travel to give your fill of the sleek, relaxing high-speed system, and you won’t need to worry about purchasing separate tickets for every train you take. In addition, the pass allows you to get out on the road and blaze your own trails when a train can’t get you close enough to where you’re going. Hop in your Hertz rental (in your choice of manual or automatic) and enjoy unlimited mileage for two days within a two-month period.
For the rail portion of your journey, don’t forget to book your passholder reservations in advance to make sure you can secure a seat on the trains you’d like to take. And for the car portion — don’t worry, a rail expert in our contact center would be happy to arrange everything for you over the phone after you request the pass online.
Jumilla is just the start of our journey onto the Spain Wine Trail. Next stop: La Mancha. There may be a man there who’s making some mighty fine wine.