Old man and the wine

Ramón Castaño Santa, winemaker from Murcia in Spain and Santiago, the fisherman in Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Old man and the Sea, have the same attitude and devotion to life. It is a picture about grounds of living, with absorption to work and valuation towards life. With the difference that Ramón Castaño’s sight is the land itself and life has been generous to him.

Ramón Castaño Santa, enjoys proudly about plain serving with gachasmigas, bread and red wine.

Ramón Castaño appreciates his roots. His relationship with the vine cultivation and winemaking dates back for many generations. Ramón acquired his first own vineyard in 1975 in Las Gruesas in Yecla and it was in 1980 than the first wines were bottled. After that Castaño’s progress in wine business has grown rapidly with the impact of Ramón’s three sons. At the moment Castaño family owns some 650 hectares of vineyards throughout Yecla, among other things in Las Gruesas, El Espinal, Pozuelo and Arabí. Family’s basis with the grapes lays on Monastrell, indigenous grape in Murcia district. The high plane area, Mediterranean and continent climate in Yecla offers ideal condition for Monastrell to build up its color, fruity aromas, structure and smoothness.  Evaluation continues in Bodegas Castaño with Monastrell and seeking for quality after Ramón’s footstep.

The scenery in El Espinal vineyard has some similarities that Santiago dreamed in The Old Man and the Sea. The plain is vast and brown, sky in so blue that it dazzles your eyes. Mesa is surrounded with high brown mountains far away, and one can really smell the earth.

Smoke in the fields tells about the ongoing work that must be done in the vineyards for the vines and harvest.

Formerly it was common to have blaze on a fireplace to make gachasmigas for breakfast. Ramón knows early wakeups and how gachasmigas was the main foodstuff to have enough strength for hard work.

Gachasmigas is a “country side” breakfast, a kind of flour porridge, which is enjoyed with nice fresh tomatoes and green olives. At its best it is supposed to be enjoyed with a big piece of bread and a nice bottle of Garnacha Tintorera de Castaño.

Nowadays the variety of Bodega Castaño’s wines has grown from the early days when Ramón started. Monastrell is the main grape variety and winemakers in the family strive for the quality of wines. Ramón Castaño is very contented with life, his three sons and their families, land, vines and above all wines.

Text and photos: Heikki Remes, wineman from Finland

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