The D.O. Utiel-Requena Wine Route: a journey back in time to the origins of wine
Enjoying superb cuisine, walking in beautiful wide-open spaces, travelling back 2,500 years in time to discover the oldest winepress in Europe and visiting some of the wineries on the Utiel-Requena Wine Route could be the perfect recipe for an idyllic trip.
Natural and Cultural Heritage
Surrounded by memorable places full of outstanding scenic and environmental value, this wine-lovers’ route is replete with fascinating places for discovering and enjoying a range of activities. The Natural Park of Las Hoces de Cabriel, whose backbone is formed by the bed of the River Cabriel, marks the boundary between the autonomous communities of Valencia and Castile La Mancha and is a centre of active and adventure tourism in the Community, with activities such as mountain biking, hiking, bungee-jumping and rafting on offer.
The Natural Park of Chera-Sot de Chera is notable for its huge geological diversity and hydrological wealth which led it to be declared the first Geological Park in the Valencian Community. It is also home to peaks rising up to altitudes of 1100 metres and numerous hiking trails for mountain-based excursions.
This great natural wealth also goes hand-in-hand with a venerable winemaking heritage. At the archaeological sites of Molón, Kelin and Las Pilillas, apart from admiring the spectacular views, visitors can also see the testimony of how viticulture was practised in the 5th and 6th centuries BC.
Other testaments to wine can be found in the lovely town of Requena. On a visit to its Old Quarter you can peruse the famous Caves of La Villa, an underground labyrinth that permeates the entire subsoil of the La Villa neighbourhood. They date back to the Middle Ages and have been used as wine cellars (as proof of which various vats are still there today), as a refuge, as homes, as storage for cereal crops and as ossuaries.
In Utiel, a visit to the Redonda Winery is a must, the headquarters of the Control Board of Utiel-Requena. This is the original building dating back to 1891 and was designed by an engineer who was a disciple of Gustave Eiffel. This unusual piece of architecture features fine materials such as hewn stone, solid brick, clay, iron, wood, and lime-and-sand mortar. The slope of the street used to allow the carts to unload the grapes into the winery’s hopper, whose own weight then tipped them into a huge winepress on the ground floor where they were distributed, now in the form of must, by a kind of waterwheel structure with buckets on a rotating arm to all the tanks around the circular edge of the building. The Redonda Winery’s ownership changed hands over the years until, in 1991, after a meticulous renovation process, it was opened as the Grape and Wine Museum of the Valencian Community.
A land of wines
Across the ten municipalities that make up this route (Camporrobles, Caudete de las Fuentes, Chera, Fuenterrobles, Requena, Siete Aguas, Sinarcas, Utiel, Venta del Moro and Villargordo del Cabriel) there are more than 40,000 hectares of vineyards that make up the Utiel-Requena Designation of Origin (DO) which was one of the first to be founded in Spain, back in 1957.
Utiel-Requena is a region of mainly red and rosé wines, made from red grape varieties. In recent years cava is becoming increasingly popular, which has led to more extensive planting of white grape varieties. The grape varieties protected by the DO are: Reds: Bobal, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir; Whites: Macabeo, Tardana or Planta Nova, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
With 17 wineries open to visitors, the Wine Route gives local visitors and tourists alike a closer insight into the world of wine: the vineyards, the grape varieties, the fermentation process, grape ripening, bottling, etc. The wineries offer a wide variety of activities ranging from tasting sessions and wine and food pairings to taking part in grape harvests or even hot air balloon rides to see the vineyards from the sky.
Wine and gastronomy – the perfect pairing
Due to the location of the county and the inland climate, the region’s gastronomy features delicious dishes made with olive oil and other natural produce from these dry-cropping lands, based on traditional recipes that always find the perfect partner in Utiel-Requena wines.
The regional cuisine is very rich and varied and features numerous pork-based dishes such as olla and potaje (meat and vegetable stews), bollos or tortas con magras y sardinas (flatbreads topped with sausages and sardines), the famous charcuterie and cured hams. Other typical local dishes include ajoarriero (similar to cod brandade), rice casseroles or rice with bajocas (green beans), stewed potatoes and other casseroles made with game such as gazpacho (not to be confused with the chilled Andalusian soup) and morteruelo.
Desserts and confectionary are also popular, especially made with honey, and include alajú – a flat almond torte, of Arabic origin – and burruecos (honeyed almond clusters), turroncillos (little nougat cakes), sweet potato pastries, sweet pasties and lardy cakes.
But without a doubt the star of the regional gastronomy is its sausages: longaniza, salchichón, sobrasada, perro, orza and onion black pudding are just a few of the products endorsed by the two quality marks that attest to their quality: the Requena Sausage Control Board and the Utiel Gastronomy Quality Mark.
Your trip, just a click away
Designed to meet the needs of every type of tourist, the Route features something for everyone to enjoy, ranging from active and adventure tourism through to the chance to spend a tranquil weekend enjoying the finest dishes in some of the top local restaurants.
Savouring a fine wine, sampling local sausages, relaxing in delightful little hotels or rural guesthouses surrounded by nature, all offer visitors an unforgettable experience.
On the www.rutavino.com website you can book a variety of different packages or, if you prefer, you can organize a personalized version of the Route to reflect your interests.
A Mediterranean climate, a delicious and healthy gastronomy, and magical spots surrounded by unforgettable scenery all characterize a Designation of Origin that belongs to the Valencian region with the longest history of viticulture in Spain. Just 40 minutes from the city of Valencia and the sea, and with excellent connections by the AP-7 motorway and the AVE high-speed train, an idyllically restful region is waiting to welcome you.
Will you raise a glass with us?