Wine Tourism in Murcia
Murcia wine region: Jumilla, Yecla and Bullas
Murcia is famous for its beaches and groceries and therefore attracts millions of tourists every year.
Murcia is one of the smallest regions in Spain. Its importance in history is however large, and it has also been vital through history as a key agricultural provider. Murcia has been for centuries a key producer of vegetables. Meat has always been important too. As for wine, it was initially used to provide body to the lighter wines produced in Alicante and Valencia. This role was long forgotten and today Murcia and its flagship Monastrell grape play n important role in the Spanish wine reality.
Wines from Murcia might not be very well-known by the public, yet they are worth discovering. There are many opportunities to do wine tourism in Murcia. Wine routes between Bullas, Jumilla and Yecla are of great interest to the visitor who will be surprised by the variety of wineries and sites to visit. Murcia is the home of the Monastrell grape variety.
Jumilla wine region
Few fans of Jumilla wines are aware that phylloxera reached the region. It did, but not when the bug destroyed the vineyards in Europe. In the case of Jumilla, the arrival of the bug happened one century later, in 1988!
A few visionaries thought the disaster could turn into an opportunity. Vines needed replanting and a good choice was made by re-introducing quality Monastrell clones. Jumilla, once a land dedicated to exports and production of wine in bulk was about to initiate a revolution that still continues today.
The strategy from a winemaking perspective implied a few changes: earlier picking to retain acidity, longer maceration, cooler fermentation, and careful aging. The results were surprising and a good match to seekers of richly ripe and fruity wines. You can enjoy a Jumilla wine tour at some of the wineries in Jumilla. The most beautiful wineries are located in the area known as Carche, a natural protected area. Car is needed to reach el Carche though since it is located at some 10 minutes drives from the town of Jumilla.
Jumilla has a clearly defined terroir. The wine region is named after the town of Jumilla. It is a small town, with not much charm, despite it offers to the visitor a great view of the remainings of an ancient castle at the top of a steep hill.
Vineyards are located between 400 and 800 meters in height (1,300 and 2,625 feet). Vines are planted on light, sandy soils that cover a bedrock of limestone.
The countryside offers not just vineyards, but also olive trees and almond trees. Monastrell is the main grape planted, but you can also find tempranillo (known as cencible here), Garnacha Tinta, and Garnacha tintorera. Foreign grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Petit Verdot are also planted. Amongst white grapes, we find Airen, Macabeo, and Pedro Ximenez (this last grape is mainly found in the sherry wine country) and it is used to produce sweet wines with overripe grapes.
Yecla wine region
This wine region only covers a town (this is the only such case in Spain) and it is located a few kilometers east of Jumilla. Yecla has produced wine for centuries and was an important center for the wine trade. Far from being a tourist attraction and with not much cultural interest, its wines compensate. Vineyards are located between 400 to 700 meters in height and the soil is similar to the one in Jumilla. Monastrell is also here the main grape. Yecla owes a considerable debt to one winery: Bodegas Castaño, which efforts have contributed to putting Yecla on the map. Wines are not very different from the ones in Jumilla. Maceration carbonica is also used here, and great attention has been put to aging. Yecla offers overall fantastic value and quality has only increased in recent decades.
Bullas wine region
Bullas is the most recent Denominacion de Origen in Murcia. Unlike Yecla, Bullas covers a vast region that includes 8 towns and villages, including Mula.
Bullas offers more tourist attraction than Jumilla and Yecla. It is a small market town with narrow streets, small churches, and squares.
The wine region of Bullas is split into 3 areas: northeast, central, and western. The higher altitude and wine production decrease from west to east. The vineyards are located between 800 and 400 meters in height and Monastrell accounts for up to 90 percent of the vineyard.
Wine route in Jumilla and Yecla, land of the Monastrell
Jumilla – Yecla – Pinoso - Jumilla (80 km)
In this route you can visit remarkable bodegas and admire a landscape which gets its personality from a high concentration of vineyards. The disctinctive Monastrell grape is grown to produce tasty and powerful wines.
From the Castle of Jumilla, on top of the hill, you may admire the great views of the town as well as of the mountainous landscape which shows the border of the vineyards.
Many of the wineries which used to be in the town have moved to the outskirts and have therefore built beautiful château-type buildings surrounded by vineyards, such as Casa de la Ermita. Others have remained in the town centre, such as Bodegas Silvano García.
Yecla holds 10% of the vineyard belonging to the DO Jumilla, as well as its own Denomination of Origin: D.O. Yecla, comprising Bodegas Castaño, famous for its innovative wines. To visit wineries in Yecla, you must take the road MU404 which goes across the vineyards. You will soon get to Monte Arabí, where you can enjoy nice views and see cave paintings. Outside the town we recommend you visit Bodega Señorío de Barahonda, which also has a restaurant where you can enjoy both its design and good food. You shouldn´t leave Yecla without stopping at Jumilla Castle.
Pinoso is part of Alicante. It is located close to the mountains of Sierra del Reclot which are 1.043 m at their highest. It is a pretty and welcoming town, and it boasts a variety of natural spots, such as the woods of la Sierra de Salinas and of Reclot.
Although it is not a major destination for wine-tourism, we have included it in the Jumilla route because it provides a good opportunity to do rural tourism.