Exploring Wine Country in Cartagena, Spain
Because of its strategic location and safe harbor, Cartagena has been a major seaport throughout history, being occupied by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, and Barbary Coast pirates. Today the population is about 220,000 and the city, along with the rest of Spain, is suffering from severe economic issues. Silver mining used to provide many jobs for the people here but it was closed down about 10 years ago. Now tourism is the biggest industry.
Our docking location is adjacent to the town, which has a tremendous amount of character, from Roman ruins to interesting modern buildings. We visited Cartagena three years ago and toured the city, so we elected to join a wine tour today to visit the Juan Gil Family winery in Jumilla, about two hours outside of Cartagena.
The Gil family celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. It was the great-grandfather Juan Gil Jiménez who decided to leave his job as a stone cutter and try his hand at making wine in Jumilla.
In an area where bulk wine was the standard until not long ago, the fourth generation made a strong commitment to craft high-quality reds.
Their primary grape is Monastrell, which can manage in the arid climate.
The winery comprises over 1,400 hectares of their own vineyards with production exceeding 8 million bottles. Up to 75% of the wines are exported to over 40 countries.
The fourth generation’s nine siblings all have a stake in the company headed by Miguel and Ángel Gil.
First, we toured their winery in Jumilla, which was clean, neat, and organized. Our tasting consisted of a “picnic lunch” in the vineyard. Not what we would call a picnic. We were served about seven courses and six different white and red wines at one long table.
The quality of the wine was excellent, the food prepared of all delicious regional ingredients, and the meal concluded with traditional paella.
It was a fantastic and interesting experience.
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