ECO-FRIENDLY JUMILLA VINE-GROWING
Old ungrafted vines in near-perfect conditions for organic growing.
A 2,500 year-old history of vines
With less than 300mm annual rainfall and over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, the Jumilla wine region offers near-perfect conditions for organic vine-growing, so much so that most Jumilla vine-growers have only ever practised eco-friendly viticulture.
The appellation’s dry, sunny, high plateau terroir largely spares the vines from disease. Even phylloxera struggled to get a foothold in these parts and never penetrated the higher rocky terroirs at all.
Low rainfall means that yields are naturally low. While other rainier regions may resort to green harvesting in order to bring down yields for higher quality, Jumilla has the lowest natural yields per hectare of any wine region in the world. As a result, its vineyards are planted at very low density to prevent the vines from suffocating.
In such conditions, we might expect climate change to be a threat, and yet this isn’t the case. The vast majority of Jumilla’s vineyards (around 79%) are dry-farmed. The combination of Monastrell’s resilience as a plant and Jumilla’s deep, cool, rocky, limestone soils, which cover most of the region, enables the vines to find moisture deep underground and survive without irrigation.
The vast majority of Jumilla’s vineyards
(around 79%) are dry-farmed.
Dry-farmed, old-vine Monastrell
A huge proportion of Jumilla’s vineyard is made up of old vines, mostly low bush vines, which ensure shade and relative coolness for the fruit. Amazingly, some 1,000 hectares of these are ungrafted and at least 50 years old, dating back to a time before grafting became compulsory. At lower altitudes, many vineyards are strategically planted on shady north- facing slopes to preserve balance and freshness in the wines.
While trends in grape variety and wine style may come and go, the realities of farming in Jumilla remain the same, and water remains a precious commodity. Traditionally, Jumilla farmers have grown olives, almonds and grapes. For centuries they have devoted what water they had to their olive groves and almond trees, knowing that their vines could manage without irrigation. It is perhaps due to this ancestral knowledge that the vineyards of Jumilla, one of the driest areas of Spain, are still largely dry-farmed.
Making it even more challenging for this variety, Monastrell has a long drawn-out vine cycle. While Tempranillo sets off late and then races through the season, the largely organically-grown Monastrell buds in March and is still ripening at the end of October.
A HUGE PROPORTION OF JUMILLA’S VINEYARD IS MADE UP OF OLD VINES