Jumilla: Spain's Comeback Wine Region

The Jumilla DO has turned potential disaster into triumph.  In 1989 – long after most Spanish wine growers had encountered phylloxera, lost nearly everything, and replanted – the insect finally arrived in Jumilla, with predictable results.  As phylloxera spread, grapevines succumbed, and Jumilla's growers had to make some hard choices.

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Fortunately, the Jumilla DO was already well-established.  Most growers decided not only to replant but also to modernize, and Jumilla transformed itself from a DO best known for bulk wines into one of Spain's up-and-coming wine regions.  Interestingly, Jumilla's vineyards were not replanted with the same varieties as before.  Many growers chose to replant with monastrell, a native grape particularly suited to the region's continental, drought-prone climate.  Others diversified, planting a wide range of permitted foreign grape varieties, such as petit verdot and cabernet sauvignon.

Today, Jumilla's wines, particularly its reds, are internationally recognized – some are sold as far away as China – and often make "best value" lists.

Climate and Soil
Jumilla is situated in southeastern Spain, in the northern part of the Murcia political region.  The area's continental climate definitely plays a role in wine production.  Temperatures typically range from 46 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit, but can low temperatures can reach freezing, and highs can go over 100 degrees.  Drought is always a threat, and when rains do come, they can be quite heavy, which means the blossoms and ripening grapes are at risk.  On the positive side, Jumilla has plenty of sunlight, and the risk of frost is fairly low.

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Most of Jumilla's grapes are grown on a plateau surrounded by mountains.  Vineyard elevations typically range from 1,300 to 2,600 feet above sea level.  Jumilla's soils are composed primarily of limestone and tend to have a high pH.  Soils tend to be sandy or loamy and hold water well.