Ronda wine tour and beyond
Picasso’s hometown, Málaga, is well-known for its beaches. The city welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. They flock to its shores looking for relaxing Easter holidays, discovering its rich cultural heritage, or just spending a few days enjoying its annual fair. An increasing number of fans look also for a Ronda wine tour during their stay in the Malaga province.
In this article, we will cover the wine-producing regions of Sierras de Malaga. If you are looking for a tour to enjoy the wines of Ronda we recommend you have a look at this TOUR. If you would like to focus on the wine styles in Malaga region and Ronda follow the previous link.
In recent times, its port has become an attractive harbor for a mandatory visit to the Mediterranean cruise ships that sail these waters. No matter where you arrive to Málaga there are 3 main things you should consider adding to your itinerary in the area and one of them is for sure a Wine tour near Ronda.
White villages in Malaga
A first stop in your plans should include the Málaga’s neighboring towns also add to the region’s enchantment -Marbella, Ronda, and the famous “white towns” of Mijas, to the west, and Frigiliana, to the east, rounds up an almost full touristic offer, that would appear to have no room left for vineyards or wineries.
The first idea that comes to any Spaniard’s mind when thinking about the wines from Málaga is one that recalls sweet wines made with the Moscatel grape.
A long time before these sweet wines acquired their reputation, the Moors cultivated the vine in the central highlands of Málaga. Albeit alcohol consumption was frowned upon, the locals tended to their vineyards and labeled its fermented fruit as medicinal, to avoid any frictions with the ruling power. The Al-malaquí xarab was a kind of grape syrup that held noticeable health benefits, such as boosting the appetite. Prior to the Moorish occupation, the vine had been planted in that region by the Phoenicians and the Greeks.
The biggest expansion of the wines of Málaga occurred during the 18th century. Back in those days, the wines coming out of this place were fortified (distilled grape alcohol was added to the wine). That was the fashion of the time. The hot temperatures in the south of Spain allowed the grapes to naturally reach high levels of potential alcohol, and the elaboration of fortified wines with up to 22º alcohol resulted in products that traveled well and showed resilience and endurance to the pass of time.
Wine producers decided to work with Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez varietals, leaving aside the rest of native grapes. When phylloxera hit Spain, many the already neglected native grapes were eradicated for good, taking with it hundreds of acres of planted vineyard. The combination of these circumstances ended up shaping the personality of the wine production in Málaga, traditionally linked to viticulture focused on the raisin making process for their grapes.
Ronda and a wine tour
It was only during the last years of the 1990’s when a small group of producers started to make still wines from these sun-bathed vineyards.
This sparked a radical shift in the local wine industry, slowly reducing the fortified and sweet wine production, opening room for the still wine new era, and it is here where the wines of Ronda have played an important role.
Since the raisin-suited Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel varietals dominated the landscape, and the majority of the native grapes were wiped out by the phylloxera, the growers had to resort to foreign breeds, such as Petit Verdot, which adapted itself to the region’s climate especially well.
When 2001 came around, the new still wine trend was a reality. So things had to be reorganized. The D.O. (the national administrative distinction of winemaking territories) was divided in two: Vinos de Málaga (for wines above 15º to 22º in alcohol), and Vinos de Sierras de Málaga (for still wines below 15º in alcohol).
In the light of said relabeling, the land under vine around the central highlands of Málaga, Ronda, and the municipality of Axarquía, became the preferred location for the Sierras de Málaga wines.
Ronda itself is a true magnet for tourism. This locality sits on a ridge over 2.300 feet, blessed with cool nights that bring down the temperature of the hot days. This thermal contrast is an advantage to grape growing, as the sun is generous on its effect to ripen the fruit, while the cool nights slow down the maturation and retains the acidity.
Humidity has its role too. The proximity to the Mediterranean sea of Ronda moderates the temperatures throughout the seasons and the different sets of hills allow the farmers to choose and orientate their plants in the most convenient way to provide just the right amounts of sunlight and shade.
Considering that the majority of the land under vine was planted recently, it is clear that the potential of this wine region is barely starting to show. As these vines get older, and their roots grow deeper, we will begin to see the wines from the Sierra de Ronda show their true character. It is worth mentioning that many of the wine operations around this area have been identified as organic farming since their origins.
On top of all this, the Ronda region calls out for a mandatory stop in La Axarquía. This land stretches out from the coastline (Nejar and its stunning caves) all the way inland. It is a hilly landscape with a high content of slate in its soil. The traditionally-planted vineyard implies a tough work for the farmers. In this kind of steep terrain, the vine roots are forced to reach far down the surface in order to find their vital resources, giving the wines a determined mineral component. The average altitude of the vineyards and the coastal influence produce balanced and elegant wines.
This region of Axarquía is also known for its mango and avocado production, to which it has traditionally destined a fair portion of its land, along the vines destined to farm raisins. Overall, a charming countryside were the vine cohabits with other tropical fruits, surrounding the magical “white towns”.
When visiting Málaga, the hometown of Picasso, it is common to lose oneself in the beauty of the agrarian scenery and its high-quality produce. Even though a short trip around the city of Ronda and its highlands, or going East to the Axarquía. The contrast of the blue sea, the white beaches, and the jagged green hills that shape the mainland and its charismatic villages will leave a long-lasting memory. You will be able to find more information on Ronda in this website.
Enjoy Ronda and the Sierras de Málaga region!