Jumilla is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) for wines that extends over the north of the region of Murcia, including the municipality of Jumilla —from which it takes its name— and the contiguous southeast of the Albacete province (municipalities of Montealegre del Castillo, Fuentealamo, Ontur, Hellin, Albatana and Tobarra) in the Castile-La Mancha region.
There are currently 32,000 hectares currently under vines in Jumilla DO, 45% of which are in Murcia and 55% in Albacete. There are around 3,000 grape-growers registered.
During the outbreak of the phylloxera plague in the 19th century the region surprisingly escaped contamination and so entered a period of economic expansion as wine merchants from France came in great numbers to buy wine. For this reason the vines were never regrafted onto resistant rootstock from the New World as was the case in the rest of Europe. However, the phylloxera pest unexpectedly struck in 1989, devastating the vineyards and reducing production by 60% over the next five years. Replanting and grafting was slow and expensive but allowed the region to adopt the new methods of grape growing and wine making that were already proving successful in the neighbouring DOs of Alicante and Almansa. Jumilla DO is one of the oldest in Spain having acquired its official status in 1966.
This DO is characterised by wide valleys and plateaus in the presence of mountains. It is a transition zone between the Mediterranean coastal area and the high central plateau of Castile-La Mancha, and so the height of the vineyards vary between 400 and 800 m.
The climate is continental (long hot summers and cold winters), tempered by the closeness of the Mediterranean Sea. The area is arid. Rainfall is low (around 300 mm/year) and irregular, though it mostly falls during spring and autumn, often in the form of violent storms which can sometimes cause damage to the vines. The average annual temperature is 16°C though a maximum of 40°C can be reached in summer and minimums below 0°C in winter. There is a risk of frost up to the month of March, exceptionally until April. The vines receive over 3,000 hours of sunlight per year.
The soils are dark, lime bearing and sometimes with a hard lime crust. In general, they are permeable and have good moisture retaining properties, which allows the vines to survive during periods of prolonged drought. They are poor in organic material and their structure does not favour the propagation of phylloxera. They are quite sandy, allowing good aeration, have a high pH value and are low in salinity.
The authorised red grapes are the following:
- Monastrell, Tempranillo, (known locally as Cencibel), Garnacha Tintorera, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot.
- The authorised white grapes are the following: Airén, Macabeo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez and Malvasía.
Of these varieties, Monastrell is the most significant for Jumilla DO, as it represents over 85% of the vines planted. Monastrell is in fact the third most widely planted grape in Spain, and is found mostly along the Mediterranean coastline. Like Airén, it has good resistance to drought. The planning density is between 1,100 vines/ha to 1,600 vines/ha for extensive planting formations, and the maximum authorised yield is 4,000 kg/ha for red varieties and 4,500 kg/ha for white varieties. For intensive planting formations the density ranges from 1,600 vines/ha to 3,200 vines/ha with maximum yields of 7,000 kg/ha for both red and white varieties.