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The thermometer marks maximums at Kilometer Zero, but in Colmenar de Oreja, southeast of Madrid, Jesús Peral walks between barrels at no more than 15 degrees. "You can take a nap here. It's what the cave has," says the winemaker with a smile in front of Bodegas Peral, one of those that draw the wine tourism map of this town also known for its arcaded square and the museum of Ulpiano Checa.
It is a somewhat troglodyte town because the truth is that it is full of caves. Underground they age the wines in huge clay jars. Jesus accompanies the traveler through these galleries that his father bought and that date back to 1882. This peculiar engineering to preserve the wine is an essential part of the guided tour that includes, of course, the tasting of its wines accompanied by sausages from the region. These days it also hosts a cycle of concerts to animate the summer festival. If the night gets longer, you can always stay overnight in Los Tinajones, a charming rural house (and swimming pool), in the center of this Madrid town.
The Plaza Mayor of Colmenar de Oreja, Madrid.EL MUNDO
According to the latest report of Visitors to Wineries and Museums of Wine Routes of Spain published by ACEVIN, wine tourism in our country has grown by 58% in the last year. The month that most wineries are visited is October, followed by August. On vacation is, of course, when we have more time, but also when the visit is more pleasant. Against the heat wave, nothing like a walk between barrels with the sweater on.
Rueda, damajuanas and a golden wine
Thus, with the jacket on top, we find Ruth González, responsible for the visits in Bodegas De Alberto, member of the Rueda Wine Route and winner of the award for Best Wine Tourism Corner of the year. Immersion in this family-run winery brings one surprise after another. The first is an underground gallery 1.5 kilometers long where about 4 million liters of wine age. "We are between 12 and 14 degrees. Fresh is guaranteed."
The other is that, although we are in the D.O. de Rueda, kingdom of Verdejo, here we also have to talk about golden wine, "a generous, fragrant and amontillado wine, similar to those of Jerez" that is aged in damajuanas exposed to the sun for a minimum of 12 months and subsequent aging in soleras. In fact, the highlight of the visit comes when you find yourself among a beach of 7,000 glass damajuanas. "A scene that changes every day depending on the light," says Ruth.
Thousands of damajuanas surprise the traveler in Bodegas De Alberto, in the D.O. de Rueda.EL MUNDO
The incursion into this winery in the town of Serrada earns points if we take the opportunity to explore the area. A good base of operations is the Hotel Castilla Termal Olmedo, built on the ruins of the old convent Sanct Spiritus of the twelfth century. One of Rueda's best sellers is the Castillo de la Mota. It is not enough to see it from the road. It is worth visiting the underground shooting galleries that made this fifteenth-century fortress one of the most advanced of its time.
Winemaker for a day
Another of the wine routes near the capital is Calatayud, an hour and a half away by car. This is Garnacha land. "It is 75 percent of our vineyards, we are specialists in this grape," explains Mireia Martínez, responsible for wine tourism at Bodegas San Alejandro, in Miedes de Aragón. The personality of these wines is understood when we look at the landscape. "The vineyards are located between 700 and 1,100 meters above sea level. We are one of the places in Spain where the harvest is later, even in Europe, "says the expert. "In this area, the contrast of temperatures can reach 20 degrees in a single day, which makes them wines of great concentration."
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The winery proposes to the visitor to become an oenologist for a day. The master class has a more technical part, in which the elaboration of the wine is explained, and another practice in which we have to choose between the different varieties of grapes that the winery grows and make our own blend. The resulting wine is bottled and labeled so that everyone can take it home. Another activity that we can find these days are the Summer Galas: concerts and performances of illusionists for the public that are combined with a dinner.
It is not the best known, but this wine route hides great travel hooks, from the Mudejar art of the historic center of Calatayud to the collection of spas in the region and a natural enclave with a lot of tradition such as the Monasterio de Piedra. With more than 800 years of history, this monastic enclosure embraced by dreamlike gardens that seem to emerge from The Lord of the Rings is still one of the essential tourist destinations in Aragon.
One of the emblematic waterfalls of the Monasterio de Piedra, part of the Calatayud Wine Route.SHUTTERSTOCK
Wines in Toledo
Even closer to Madrid and even more unsuspected, the Méntrida Wine Route pushes us to travel through the province of Toledo. The first stop takes us to Bodegas Alonso Cuesta, in the small town of La Torre de Esteban Hambrán, where fans can make an initiation to the very interesting tasting with the different varieties that harvest in its 35 hectares of vineyard. It is also a family business with more than one hundred years of history. The cellar, an old palace, hides a basement full of French and American oak barrels. If we continue to Méntrida, declared a Historic Site, we must not miss the Castillejo Caves, another of the main attractions of the route. Converted into a wine museum, these galleries dug directly into the earth perfectly illustrate how wines were preserved in the sixteenth century.
The caves of Castillejo, in Méntrida (Toledo).THE WORLD
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