All around Spain there are numerous wine routes, ruta de vino, not unlike our Greenways, and tasting wine is much better fun than acquiring blisters. Over three days we toured the Utiel – Requena wine region. It is an area inland to the west of Valencia city.
Valencia – Utiel-Requena Wine Tour, Part 1
Utiel-Requena is a Spanish Denominacion of Origen (DO) for wines from this area in Valencia province and named after the two towns. The prominent grape in this region is the Bobal grape, which has a very dark red colour. It is the most grown grape in Spain after Tempranillo and used also for blending with other grapes.
Utiel – Centre of the Bobal Grape Region
This country town would remind you of the small Irish towns that depend on the Co-op. Here in Utiel the Bodegas Utielanas is the Co-op that serves the needs of over 700 wine growers.
Opened in 1927 the vast factory is a hive of activity during harvesting season when it processes thousands of tonnes of grapes. The award-winning and very drinkable red, white and rose wines can be purchased at the Co-op shop at prices that would make you weep – €6.20 for five litres and 10 litres for €11.80.
The small hilly town of Utiel has made the history of wine-making into a fascinating tour of the underground wine caves. These caves under the town were where the wine was stored in massive earthenware urns. They are so big you wonder how on earth they managed to manoeuvre them into these tight spaces.
Casa Rural La Parra 1923
Lunch was a fun event in what the Spanish call a casa rural, and we would call a self-catering country house. Casa Rural La Parra 1923 is an old village house that has been loving restored by its owner Marisa. It has six bedrooms and can sleep up to 16.
As a treat Marisa’s mother also Marisa Pardo and aunt Emilia Pardo cooked a traditional Valencian Paella over a fire. They fed it carefully with twigs to get the giant dish just right for the gang for lunch, It was impressive to see these glamorous ladies working over a hot fire in 33-degree heat and still smiling when they served us.
We were also joined for lunch by Rofolfo Valiente from the Bodega Vegalfaro family-run organic winery. He shared with us some of the award-winning wines from his vineyard.
Following lunch we visited the Bodega Vegalfaro where Rodolfo took great pride in showing us his spread. The rows of vines stretch towards the mountains and include the Bobal and Garnacha Tintorera varieties. The beautiful vineyard has a lovely event area and is popular for weddings.
Pago de Tharsys – Organic Vineyard
The last visit of the day was to another organic vineyard, the extensive Pago de Tharsys. Here we had a walk among the vines and were shown the various types used in the wine production.
This vineyard is an inclusive tourism destination where you can not only learn about wine but also partake in the experiences such as harvesting the grapes. Or you can stay in some of the rural accommodation on site. There is also a lake where you can fish and boat.
The day finished up with unusual place for dinner, at an aerodrome near Requena. This little spot is home to a flight school, a base for small light aircraft and you can learn to skydive too. Sitting over a very nice dinner we got to watch aircraft come and go, definitely different.