La Mancha (from the Moors’ word Manxa, which means, “parched earth”) is Europe’s largest winegrowing region, and its most important wine-producing town, Tomelloso, has the largest wine cooperative in Europe and the second largest in the world, in addition to several other wineries which produce high quality wines.
Beneath the towns buildings there are nearly 4000 ‘cuevas’ for the storage of the wine. As you walk around you will notice nearly all the houses have grids outside that lead down into these cellars. These ‘lumbreras’ allow air to circulate and locals jokingly refer to them as air conditioners. Many of the cuevas still have the typical earthenware jars and other utensils necessary for winemaking.
My Google map is here.
After arriving in town my first stop was Posada de los Portales in Plaza de Espana, the central hub of the town. The posada was a former inn, built in 1778, which is now the Cultural Center and Tourist Information for the locality.
The nice lady there made a couple of calls for me to see which cuevas were accepting visitors and made an appointment at Bodgegas Perales, an old bodega founded in 1900.
After lunch I went to the address and was met by a friendly lady, the granddaughter of the original proprietor who, along with her little boy, gave me a personal tour of the winery.
The ground floor had more modern equipment, such as a machine for macerating the grapes…
…and tall concrete silos for holding the must.
It was explained to me that the bodega no longer processes its own grapes and instead they send them to the cooperative factory for bottling.
Down in the cellar…
…which was hand cut out of solid rock…
…were some much older holding jars…
… and barrels.
And at the end of the tour I was shown a small museum room displaying wine testing equipment…
…and some early examples of the bodega’s advertising.
This was an interesting and enjoyable tour that gave me lots of practice in listening to Spanish! I was quite surprised by how much I understood.
Other buildings of interest in town are the bullring, which is just up the road from the bodega…
…and over the road from the tourist information, the town hall is quite imposing.
And on another side of the same roundabout is the unimpressive main church, Parroquia Asunción de Nuestra Señora which has 16th century origins.
It’s a nice town to stroll around looking at the old town houses.
Some are decorated with beautiful ceramics, even under their balconies.
And others have lovely old doors.
What to eat and drink in Tomelloso is next!