Earth News: The No-Name Winery of Beas De Granada
By Al Brooks
Every few years when life seems to lose its zest and each day seems too like the one before, my thoughts turn to Spain. I know that it is time to visit my daughter and son-in-law who have lived more than twenty five years in Andalusia, Spain’s southernmost region. Andalusia is known for its music, fine wines, mountains and beaches, diversity and freshness of seafood, and beautiful friendly people. So, last Xmas I found myself in a Boeing 777 winging my way there. I had many life-restoring experiences there, but will recount here only one of them. My daughter had heard of a restaurant in the nearby town of Beas De Granada that offered outstanding seafood items on the menu but also served locally produced wines, and so the adventure began.
We took the short drive to the Alto de Viñuelas restaurant and, since the day was bright and mild, decided to take a table at the outdoor dining area. The view of snow capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range was breathtaking. Europeans seem to enjoy outdoor dining, weather permitting, and many city establishments will have sidewalk tables while their country cousins have open air courtyards. Our selections from the menu included a goat cheese salad, fried dogfish, and stewed sliced cod. We also elected to have a bottle of both the locally produced wines, one white and one red. While the food was excellent, I wish to discuss the wines.
The white wine was like liquid gold, good for sipping alone or brightening the flavor of any food it accompanied. The red showed promise of greatness which would be realized only if enough were made so that it could age a year or two. When the proprietor overheard our praise of these wines, he informed us he’d spoken to the winemaker who was in town at the moment and who would like to show us his vineyard and winery.
We accepted and in a short while a gentleman named Felix Garrido Carretero was seated at our table. He was a forty-ish man with a mild voice and a historical memory. He told how the California wine grape varieties were established from cuttings of European vines and how when the Great Wine Blight devastated European vineyards in the mid nineteenth century, cuttings of American vines, which had developed resistance to the Wine Blight, saved the European wine industry. His recounting this was in sharp contrast to many Americans I know who have historical amnesia and can’t recall what was happening in the world the day before yesterday.
Felix drove us up the mountainside to see his five acres of grape vines and his winery operation. He has six fermentation vessels that range in size from 530 gallons to 100 gallons. His latest project is tunneling into the mountain side to build a winery and showroom that will maintain a steady temperature year round. He has yet to choose a name for his winery and design a label.
As an amateur winemaker I can appreciate the care and knowledge he has brought to bear on producing that superior product. We left having purchased a couple of cases, and with the feeling we had a friend in Beas De Granada. Buena suerte Felix.