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What´s so special about living in the Jalón Valley

What´s so special about living in the Jalón Valley

The drive to work here is always a pleasure. Each week of each season brings a different feast for the eyes, never to be taken for granted. However this mornings drive was extra special.

At this time of year, and for the next few weeks, the Valley becomes a hive of industry. Traffic increases and in Jalón at least, you may even come across the odd bottle neck. The pun couldn’t be more apt as it is the time of the grape harvest.

The farmers and grape pickers start their day early and by 9am the first trailer full of grapes is making its way along to the main Bodega in Jalon, the  Bodegas Xalo ( dont forget, Xaló is the Valencian translation of Jalón). It is back breaking work but it is a joyful sight to behold when the trailer is loaded to bursting with plump, juicy white and red grapes. Piled high and shimmering in the August sun they signify all that is wonderful about this special corner of the world. A good resounding and enthusiastic honking of ones horn is recommended. Your reward will be a broad grin and a wave back from the already weary driver. He has, of course, at least one more trip to make before his “almuerzo” ( late morning break for a jug of cold beer and a snack ). The local bars are full of  happy chatter and the comparing of notes.

A history to proud of.

In 1472 the Muslim farmers in the Jalón Valley were the most important suppliers of Muscat raisins, from the Muscat grape which continues to be the most popular grape in this region. These raisins were exported all over Europe and America. The secondary produce was wine from the Garnache grape. At the beginning of the 20th century however, there was a catastrophic event for the agriculture of the area. The Phyloxera Plague wiped out the grape and there was a “black hole” in the history of the regions wine production.

In 1962 the farmers formed a society which is still in place today. The “Bodega Cooperativa Virgen Pobre” is a cooperative of all the vineyard owners and, in fact, is the leader of wine production in the region. With the knowledge and history of over 400 members, combined with a willingness to adopt modern methods of production, they have taken the Jalón wines to a level of distinction.

Guided tours and tasting.

It has to be said that there are still places to go to experience the “treading of the grapes” however this bodega has embraced technology. One can experience the process with a guided tour and wine tasting. Guided tours are from 4 and up to 100 people and for a mere 10 euros you can visit the bodega, taste the wines, enjoy some tapas and a free gift. Just don’t plan to do anything afterwards, the samples are extremely generous and there is no spitting out!  Bodegas Xalo

Award winning wines.

There are, of course, cheaper wines which are perfectly acceptable and priced accordingly so if you live here, go in, take a trolley and fill the car for your family barbecues etc. However, there are also some outstanding wines that are consistently winning gold medals. The famous “Bahía de Dénia” is a wonderful vino blanco, with the “Vall de Xaló” a close second. The sweet dessert wine “Mistela” is also award winning. There are also fabulous reds and rosés, not forgetting the Cava and Vermouth. But don’t take my word for it, go along and try them. You can easily spend a few hours ambling around and sampling the products for free. They encourage it because they know you will not leave empty handed!

There is a real sense of community spirit and a special zest for life. The grape is king here! Lets raise a glass to a successful harvest.

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