Jumilla is a Spanish D.O.P. wine region located two thirds the way down the country on the east coast and covers the northern area of Murcia, including the municipality of Jumilla - from which it takes its name and the adjoining southeast area of Albacete province in the Castile-La Mancha region.
The D.O.P. Jumilla (Protected Denomination of Origin) wine region comprises over 30,000ha of vineyards, of which 45% are located in the town of Jumilla and connects over 3000 registered grape-growers across the entire region. The region has 44 registered wineries (Bodegas), of which 80-85% are producing bottled wines - with the region producing around 24 million litres of wine annually.
Jumilla wines have a very rich history, as winemaking can be traced back to the Greeks and continued with the Romans until the Muslim invasion. Murcia was a very strong Muslim city (being called Mursiya) and following the Quran laws, the consumption of alcohol was banned. With most of the vines being pulled-out and the ones which remained were only used for fruit and Arrope (a thick sweet grape syrup).
After the expulsion or removal of the Moors, wine production re-commenced. However, trade was slow and very weak so during the 16th century winemaking was only practiced by a few passionate families. It was during the 17th century that Jumilla finally started to produce enough wine to sell.
During the phylloxera plague in the late 19th century, the region somehow escaped infection so a period of economic growth followed as wine merchants from France came to buy wine. For this reason vines were never grafted onto resistant rootstock as was the case for the rest of Europe. However the phylloxera pest unexpectedly struck in 1989, devastating vineyards and reducing production by 60% over the coming years. Grafting and re-planting was slow but allowed the region to introduce new methods of viticulture and winemaking. Before the more recent update of wine classifications and the D.O.P status - Jumilla is one of the oldest (Designated Origin) D.O.’s in Spain having acquired its official status in 1966.
This region is characterised by wide valleys and plateaus leading up to mountain slopes. It is a transitional zone between the Mediterranean coastal area and the high central plateau of Castile-La Mancha, so the altitude of the vineyards can vary between 400 - 800m.
The regions climate is continental - with long hot summers and cold winters, which are tempered by the proximity of the Mediterranean. The area is arid, with an irregular annual rainfall of around 300mm, falling predominantly during spring and autumn, often in the form of violent and devastating storms. During the peak of the grape growing season - temperatures can reach a maximum of 40°C.
The authorised white varietals in the region include: Airén, Macabeo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez and Malvasía. Of the red varietals Monastrell is the most significant for Jumilla, as it represents around 80% of all vines planted. Monastrell is in fact the third most widely planted grape in Spain, and is found mostly along the Mediterranean coastline as it enjoys the arid conditions. While the other red varietals include: Garnacha, Garnacha Tintorera, Tempranillo, (known locally as Cencibel), and recently there have been other varietals allowed like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.
Today the wines of Jumilla, particularly its reds, are internationally recognized and enjoyed worldwide.