Walking around the country town of Requena you would have no idea what lies beneath. We were soon to find out when entering a doorway on the Plaza de la Villa, caves, a labyrinth carved into the rocks beneath.
Valencia – Utiel-Requena Wine Tour Part 2
These caves in Requena were dug out by hand are more than 2,500 years old, and were where the people of this area stored their wine. The caves in Requena were in use up to about 100 years ago and have been restored with help from EU funding. They are now a tourism attraction in the town and house dozens of the original massive earthenware wine vessels. There is also a tiny chapel and an ossuary.
Organic Olive Growing
Utiel-Requena may be a big wine-growing region but it is also a big area for the production of olive oil. Our next visit brought us to hugely stylish organic OliOli olive farm. It has the only organic mill in the region, so they control production from grove to bottle.
The olive groves are laid out in tidy ranks and watered from their own well. The buildings though are what gives it a design edge. The exterior of the main building is coated in what looks like a mother of pearl sheen, it shimmers in the sunlight.
Our charming host, Senora Maria Dolores Ferrando obviously loves her role as ambassador for Oli Oli and gave an interesting olive oil tasting session. Of course, despite weight restrictions, we had to bring some of this delicious oil home. Oli Oli also produce beauty products based on olive oil.
The Roses of Chozas Carrascal
When arriving at Chozas Carrascal I was intrigued by all the beautiful rose bushes growing between the wines. It turns on as an organic vineyard, any diseases would show up in roses ten days before the wines allowing time to make a rescue.
This vineyard is very beautiful, stylish and is family run by the Lopez family, father, daughter and son are involved. There is an obvious devotion to the growing of grapes and unusually at Chozas Carascal they grow 11 varieties of grapes, not just the Bobal variety which is common to this area.
11 Varieties of Grapes
The proprietor Julian Lopez took great enjoyment is showing us his private garden devoted to the 11 varieties. There are also a lot of nice pieces of art and sculpture around the vineyard and in the visitor centre. We had a wine-tasting lunch in the old cellar of the vineyard. It was perfectly authentic and unchanged in probably hundreds of years.
This was an extraordinary experience, with course after course, of delicious Spanish food teamed with the various wines produced at Chozas Carrascal. Senor Julian Lopez, our host told us about family’s long-standing relationship with the region known as Chozas.
Half way through lunch his daughter Maria Jose took over as host and her enthusiasm for wine growing was infectious. She also told us about their range of beauty products and the wine-spa.
In the stylish visitor centre, there an incredible collection of thousands of wine bottle labels carefully curated in big leather books. You could spend hours poring over them.
The timing of our visit coincided with Cava Festival in Requena, and that evening the Place de la Villa was thronged with people tasting the Cavas from the region, and good value at €10 for four glasses. It was a lovely, lively atmosphere with music and fun.
Dinner was in the local restaurant La Despensa de Sofia, or Sofie’s Pantry. This modern restaurant is an all-day place and is lively. We shared the place with the local football team celebrating a recent win. It was great fun and the local food, including, of course, paella was excellent.
Watch out for part three of this interesting and fun tour of Utiel-Requena.