Wine Group visit Bodegas Bleda – June 2024

The serried ranks of vines, straighter than even the Irish Guards at the Trooping of the Colour, greeted us as we arrived at Bodegas Bleda in Jumilla.

Rows and rows of vines stretched into the distance in all directions around the immaculate Bodega with not a weed to be seen anywhere.

The day long visit was the perfect wrap on the latest season of wine tasting for the U3A’s Moraira-Teulada tasters.

Some 30 members – numbers limited by the dining capacity at the family run winery – got up at stupid o’clock to get the coach down to Alicante and on inland to the arid lands around Jumilla, where the fourth generation of Bledas lovingly tend 250 hectares – over 600 acres – of assorted vines.

History shows wine has been produced to some degree in the area for 5,000 years. The Bleda family got going in 1915 and were pioneers in bottling their own wines and exporting 85% of production. Previously Jumilla wines were sold in bulk.

By 1929 they had won the first gold, with decades of awards to follow. On that first occasion it was for a red Monastrell with a mind blowing 16% alcohol percentage.

The delightful Marta gave us a tour of the state of the art winery, which the family moved production to in 2008 from their historic premises in the centre of Jumilla.

Huge stainless steel storage tanks with a capacity of up to 100,000 litres dominate the facility. Each has an inbuilt sophisticated water circulation system to raise or lower the temperature of the wine to aid the fermentation process. Next door the cellar held  thousands of French and American oak barrels, full of wine at various stages of the aging process which can take from three to five months for a young wine, to 24 months for the limited edition Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

Bleda has a longer harvest season than most because of its selection of grapes. Sauvignon Blanc kicks off the grape picking in mid August with the last of the Monastrell grapes brought in during the first week in November.

The Bodega produces around 800,000 bottles of wine a year, and despite the tasters best efforts we only put a very small dent in stocks!

A selection of tapas, salad, paella and pud  accompanied by liberal quantities of white, rosado and two different reds, made for a very pleasant lunch, all very efficiently served by Marta and her colleague Pedro, and a snooze on the coach home for a number of the group.

An impressive selection of wines, bought to see members through the summer tasting hiatus, made it safely back to Moraira.

Our thanks as ever for their hard work in running the wine group and such visits go to Pat and Brian Clarke.

Thanks also to Brian for leading the lunching group in a round of Happy Birthday marking my latest milestone.

It wasn’t all perfect in his eyes though, he was miffed the coach driver had chosen a morning coffee stop where he couldn’t get a Brandy with his café con leche!

“That’s the last time I let the driver pick the stop off,” he said.

Our thanks to Ian Graham for his excellent review of the day and to Dina Jones for the memorable pictures.