Valdepeñas is a small wine-growing region located in the biggest wine region in Spain, La Mancha, south of Castilla-La Mancha. The region is named after the city which means "Valley of Rocks", and it is found alongside the River Jabalón. The viticulture history of Valdepeñas dates back to the 3rd century BC, and after that, the real boost of wine production in the region was during the 16th and 17th century when some residents left for the Americas and planted the vines they brought with them. Back in the days, the region had long traditions in supplying Madrid and Valencia with its wines.
Valdepeñas has a continental climate as the Sierra Morena range to the south blocks out most of the Mediterranean Sea's moderating influence. Winters in Valdepeñas are cold with temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius and frost occasionally damages the grapes while the summers are hot and dry. The River Jabalón has an important moderating and cooling impact on the vineyards, vital in these hot and dry conditions. The average altitude of the vineyards is 700 metres above sea level, which also provide some relief. The soil types are very unique, composed mainly from limestone with chalk deposits, and most of the vineyards are located on pockets of soil with bands of red clay.
The region is a DO (Denominación de Origen) since 1932 and was mainly famous for its light red and rosé wines called Clarete or Aloque, which are still produced in small quantities nowadays. Today, the region's fame comes from powerful and fruity wines, made from Tempranillo which called Censibel and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Barrel fermented and aged wines such as Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva are becoming increasingly more produced in the region and must be made with 100% Tempranillo or Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The most popular white grape varieties are Chardonnay, Viura, Moscatel, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo. There are some fine sparkling wine expressions too, from Chardonnay and Viura under the Valdepeñas DO.
The region of Valdepeñas offers exceptional quality and it is becoming internationally recognised and sought after. Now the new challenge is to maintain its reputation whilst increasing the quality of their wines.