Not far from the Bodegas Iranzo winery lies the charming town of Requena, Spain – one of the primary towns of the Utiel-Requena D.O. region. The town is a historical center for wine production, with a system of Moorish caves used for wine storage found underneath the city.
The 22 caves of Cuevas De La Villa, located underneath the picturesque Plaza de la Villa, are from the Muslim period, from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries. The caves were discovered, emptied of debris and interconnected by tunnels in the 1970s. Some caves have wine storage jars, in others there is a well, a silo and an old ossuary (bone depository). During the process, three truckloads of bones were removed from the caves and relocated to the community’s graveyard.
Calcareous materials extracted by drilling and extracting tuff clay subsoil underground were used to build the village’s homes, particularly their clay mud walls. Many homes within the city have their own caves that serve as a storage cellar, directly underneath their primary structure.
Cultivation of the vine and the consumption of wine in the Utiel-Requena region go back to the Iberian era in the seventh century B.C. One ancient method used in wine production was the maceration of grapes by men wearing sandals made of Esparto grass — the same grass depicted on the Spartico label.
Esparto sandals photo credit: Luis García (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandal)