A drop of wine history....
Although it’s impossible to know exactly when wine arrived in the Iberian Peninsula, we do know that it can be traced to at least the 7th century BC, because of archaeological finds in sites in Andalucia.
However for those of you who appreciate wine, you may like to know that there is also evidence that suggests that not far from Peñiscola, that large quantities of wine were being produced in the 6th century BC.
Further south in the Valencian Community, in Denia, grape seeds were also found, as was evidence of a winery, located in the Alto de Benimaquia- a late Iberian settlement. In the photo below you can see some artefacts found at the site, one of which looks like it may be a vessel for wine.
Alto de Benimaquia artefacts by Pguerin – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
However don’t forget that this is evidence that we’ve actually discovered, but some experts believe that vitriculture in the Iberian Peninsula may have started thousands of years earlier than that. If this was indeed the case, this would have meant that the Phoenicians brought advanced techniques to these lands.
Regardless of not being able to pin down the exact history of wine in this area, what we can say with certainty is that it has been part of life here for thousands of years. Castellon is sheltered by the Levantine Sea, and has a benign climate and fertile lands. Today many of the vineyards here managed to balance a combination of ancient traditions with innovation.
Wine culture in Castellon today
In fact in an interesting 2013 article in one of the newspapers, the Head Sommelier of the Old Casino in Castellon, David Buch, said that: "In Castellon, people have more the culture to go for a glass of wine, rather than a coffee or a beer."
As a visitor, you can look forward to stimulating all of your five senses. It’s a perfect opportunity to learn and taste, while immersing yourself in the local landscapes, culture, history, tradition and of course gastronomy. All of these go hand-in-hand with enjoying the wineries here in the area.
The vineyards that are included in this official route are predominantly family concerns, that are in keeping with the wine traditions of the region, and each of the owners has a hands on involvement in the wine-making processes. Grapes are harvested by hand.
The route also includes some hand-picked accommodation, one of which is a 17th-century manor house which has been restored. Additionally a handful of restaurants have also been recommended by the tourist board, for visitors to be able to enjoy the food offerings of the province at their best.
Bodegas y Mas de Rander, Benlloch – 40 miles – 65 km from Peñsicola
This small family winery started in the mid-1990s, on land that had vines and citrus fruits. In 2006 they built a cellar close to the vineyards. They cultivate several varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Muscat, Syrah and Monastrell.
2 hour tour to include understanding the secrets of natural wines, some education about the growing cycle and of the how the wines are produces, and of course tasting – €11
They also offer a 4 hour course for €30, for groups of a minimum of 10 people.
Carrer el Trinquet, 3, 12560 Benicàssim, Castellón Phone: 964 30 24 16
Vilafamés – 43 miles – 70 km from Peñiscola
Please note that Vilafames Old Quarter may be challenging for those who have mobility issues.
Vilafames Wine Route Tour
In 1912 the family started making wine for their personal consumption. Today you can tour with Gabriel Mayo, who is the great grandson of the original wine-makers. In fact at only 6 years of age, Gabriel started getting involved in viniculture by collecting grapes and preparing wine, to help his grandparents. It was his grandparents who founded the co-operative.
Head to Bodegas Mayo García at midday on a Saturday or Sunday, to learn about the secrets involved in the process there. Explore the vineyards, visit the bodega and of course taste some of the wine. You will receive a bottle of the bodega’s best wine.
Cost: €12 – To book your tour call Gabriel’s mobile number
Bodegas Mayo García , Vilafamés – C/ La font nº118 c.p: 12192 Vilafamés, Castellón
Phone: 964 329 312 Mobile: 626 285 394 – Efirstname.lastname@example.org
Vilafames Wine Route Accommodation Suggested By The Local Tourist Board
1. El Jardín Vertical
This stylish boutique hotel is a 17th century house, of 5 storeys, which has been lovingly restored. It’s located at the high end of the old quarter, and has some sensational views. It rises over 12 metres over the medieval wall, with a layout that is enchanting and rambling. El Jardín Vertical is featured in Alastair Sawday’s book. It has a very good reputation for food. There are 9 rooms available, including a special double room, with a fireplace and beautiful views, a suite and a duplex.
Price range: Per double room from €115 including breakfast to €215. Wifi and TV are free.
Vilafamés – Carrer Nou 15, Vilfames 12192 – Phone: 964 329 938
2. Hotel Rural L’Antic Portal – Vilafamés
A rustic property in the charming old quarter of Vilafamés, that was originally two rich farmers’ homes – the L’Antic Portal has 11 rooms which are individually decorated. This is a family run establishment.
Price range: €30 to €66
Calle La Fuente 6, Vilafamés 12192 Phone: 964 329 384
3. Hotel El Rullo – Vilafamés
Located in the lovely old quarter of Vilafamés, El Rullo was built in 1990, and refurbished in 2012. It’s a small, family run establishment with 4 cosy double guestrooms, and 2 family rooms. Rooms are relatively small, due to the location and style of the property. Typical food of the area is served, as are wines that are connected to the route. They offer free Wifi.
Price range: €33 – €60
El Rullo Hotel Restaurant, Calle de la Fuente 2, Vilafames 12192 Phone: 964 329 384
Les Useres Castellon Wine Routes – 46 miles, 75 km from Peñiscola
Bodega Señorío de Villafamés, Les Useres
Located in the lower zone of Les Useres, the vineyards of this bodega are spread over 15 hectares (37 acres) of land, with vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Macabeo, Garnacha, Monastrell, Merlot, Syrah and Tempranillo.
Tours are available on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but do need to be booked by appointment.
There are a range of tours starting from €6 and going to €25 – which is the Gastro Visit.
Guided tour + tasting of our wines 6€.
Guided tour + tasting of our wines + aperitif 10€.
Guided Tour + + introduction to wine tasting appetiser zone 18€.
TOP Visit : Visit to the cellar + High range cellar wines tasting and pairing. 20€/pax (4 people minimum)
GASTRO Visit: (Depending on season) : Visit to the cellar + Tarragona calçots and grilled meat based country food. 25€/pax (6 pax minimum)
Calle del Mas nou 12000 – Urb. La Foia, Castellón Phone: 617 492 881
Bodega Flors, Les Useres, Castellon
This is one of the oldest and most traditional vineyards in Castellon, which started out in the early part of the 19th century. Today they have vines of 70 years old. They produce a signature wine, which is a handmade red wine, called Clotas, which has received great recognition throughout the province.
Guided tour and wine-tasting of two wines = €5
Guided tour and wine-tasting of 4 wines + appetiser + = €10
Partida Pou d’En Calvo, s/n Castellón Phone: 671 618 851
Bodega Les Useres
This is a co-operative between 86 wine growers, that started off in the 1960s with little resources, but good intentions to work together to fulfill a dream. In the mid 1990s they decided to invest in modernising their cellar and equipment. Located in the area of L’Alcalatén, the wine produced there is full-bodied and expressive, due to the micro-climate and the land.
Please contact the Bodega beforehand, as there are dates currently during spring and summer.
Cost: €3 – which includes the tour and tasting their top three wines, but this money is reimbursed when you spend more than €20 in their shop.
Ctra Vall d’Alba S/N, Castellón Phone: 964 38 85 25
Les Useres Vall d’Alba Wine Route Accommodation Suggested By The Local Tourist Board
L’Ermita – Casa Ripo
This is a hotel in a nice location, with rooms from around €40 upwards. It has a play area for children, mini-golf and a pool.
Avinguda Pas, Vall d’Alba 12194, Castellon Phone: 964 766 747