Report and photos by John Campbell
This run was organised by John and Marion Richardson, and a fine job they did. It had been mentioned at the AGM that members liked runs with a “destination”, and this run certainly did. We went to the Bodega García Hidalgo, near Ronda.
Since people were coming from various places, three meeting places were arranged, and then all three groups met at a gas station on the outskirts of Ronda. Unfortunately the bar was closed – this is not the first time that we have found it closed. John set off on a mission to find another place and we moved a few kms up the road to a hotel with a handy bar.
Suitably refreshed we set of towards the bodega. As I have sold my car, I went in Rosie the Rover with Nick.
Being driven by Nick gave me a chance to enjoy the view and take some photos as we headed down towards Montejaque and Benojan.
It was only about 30 kms until we arrived at the gate of the Bodega and drove in past the growing vines.The owner, Miguel came out to greet us and marshalled the cars to park right next to the vines.
Once everybody was parked, Miguel took us around to the front of the bodega and explained about his philosophy of growing the grapes for quality, rather than quantity. He uses no artificial fertilisers nor pesticides – everything is natural.
Between rows of the vines they have planted beans. These are not as a crop, but nodules on the roots of the plants add nitrogen to the soil, and they were getting ready to plough-in the plants for the leaves to add nutrients to the soil.
When we had finished the outside tour, we went down into the cellar. Different wines are matured in the bottle or in oak barrels. Miguel uses some barrels of French Oak and some of American Oak, depending on the taste he is trying to achieve. He kept referring to a testing process to monitor the progress of the wine, but I think his testing boiled down to tasting!
From the cellars we went back up the stairs to see the machinery where the grapes are separated from the leaves and stalks, and then ground up. No more treading the grapes by foot in a big trough – it is all done mechanically now.
Once the tour was over, we moved into the salon, and Miguel produced a series of wines for tasting and a truly exceptional selection of tapas. The tapas slowly gave way to a large selection of starters for the main course, which was a very tasty paella.
By the time we had finished the two deserts, people were mentioning they felt like Mr Creosote in the memorable Monty Python movie – he burst after eating a “wafer thin mint”, and that is how we were feeling.
After a visit to the shop to take home a selection of wine, we made our respective ways back over the mountain, to finish off a memorable day.