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It’s time to board the plane and fasten your seatbelt. We are heading to Spain on my virtual private jet to explore Jumilla and the Monastrell grape.
Elena Pacheco freely admits that a couple of decades ago, she and many of her young winemaking colleagues in Jumilla were tempted to replant their vineyards with fashionable French grape varieties. But those days are long gone. The 12m-long vine, suspended from the roof of her Viña Elena winery as an exhibit, is of course the native Monastrell, a grape variety that today covers almost three-quarters of the Jumilla vineyard.
Jumilla (pronounced who-ME-ah) is a small wine region located in southeastern Spain. “The area begins in Tobarra mountains, a natural crossroad located between Alicante, Albacete, and Murcia, around 50 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The vines stretch out across more than 19,000 hectares of land, and over 2,000 viticulturists painstakingly care for each and every one. There are 45 registered wineries in the provinces of Murcia and Albacete, of which 40% are located in the town of Jumilla.” This quote is taken from Jumilla.com
Jumilla is the birthplace of Monastrell, a red grape variety (known as Mourvèdre in France). Jumilla also boasts being home to Europe’s single largest collection of 90-year-old ungrafted bush vines. Viticulture and winemaking have been a fundamental part of Jumilla for over 5000 years, and it is one of the oldest DOPs (denominación de origin Protegida) in Spain, established in 1966.