Malaga wine heritage
Anyone wishing to enter the rich wine culture of the province of Malaga should know that its exquisite products have a long history whose origins should be traced back to the times of the Phoenicians and Romans.
With the passing of time and the occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, it was the Arabs who for centuries cultivated the vine in these Andalusian lands, especially in the Nasrid period. From this time there are abundant references to the vineyard. However, there is no conclusive information that existing wine presses belong to farmhouses or machares from the Nasrid stage, although there are indications that some buildings may be Nasrid as they do not comply with the construction patterns of the Castilian period.
With the arrival of the Castilians and the distribution of houses and land, new wine presses began to be built, even the old mosques were occupied, turning them into warehouses or presses. Little by little the region began to be recognized for the quality of its vineyards and for the large number of wineries that appeared during the Modern Age.
We call the press to the buildings destined to the production of wine, oil or cider. Inside we find the infrastructure with which the pressing of the vine, the fruits of the olive tree or the apple tree is carried out.
Many farmhouses and machares passed into Castilian hands, who were in charge of their reconstruction as they were damaged by the war.
The first Castilian wine presses of the 16th century in Los Montes de Málaga were simple constructions with small variations. Rectangular building with two naves, one of them dedicated to housing the wine press and the other to deposit the jars. On this nucleus are added spaces for housing and other livestock uses.
Towards the 18th century the architecture of the wineries was modified. There are extended dependencies, others that are added and the spaces to reside are separated from those used for production. These changes responded to the economic boom experienced by the wine export trade. The facades were decorated with paint, etc.
During this time some wineries had an internal patio and an adjoining place that functioned as a chapel and a meeting point for farmers.
Likewise, in the estates of the feudal lords you can find the presence of a pillar or a water source, an essential architectural element within the imaginary of the inhabitants of the rural habitat.
Stage of decline
In the 19th century there was a great neglect on the part of the producers in the quality of the wine. In turn, other agricultural products such as sugar cane, beets and citrus fruits are beginning to be valued. Not a few owners abandoned their buildings because of the Napoleonic invasion and the buildings were left adrift.
The muscat raisin, however, was a refuge for producers from the coastal areas and the Axarquia, which served to counteract the wine crisis.
There are very few wine presses built in this period and those that were built once again resume the simplicity of their beginnings. We must not forget also that the arrival of phylloxera in 1877, – an insect from North America that destroys the vine -, completed the adverse scenario to destroy production.
To the rescue of the historical wine heritage
Currently only five wineries are listed in the General Plan for Urban Planning of Malaga. Today’s struggle is focused on preventing the misappropriation of the heritage assets present in Malaga’s farms and on achieving institutional protection.
Projects are also carried out in which an attempt is made to make an inventory and catalog of elements and infrastructures that must be conserved as patrimonial heritage, in the face of the threat of excessive urban expansion or their imminent collapse.
The best to taste
The province of Malaga offers 45 wineries and has three designations of origin: D.O Málaga, D.O Sierras de Málaga and D.O Pasas de Málaga.
The wineries have guided tours and wine tastings (reds, dry whites and rosés if they are DO Sierras de Málaga or calm ones or liquor if they are DO Málaga) for a reasonable price, at present access has been somewhat restricted by the appearance of Covid 19 and biosecurity measures.
The wine museums
In the historic center of Malaga you can visit the Wine Museum and soak up the history of Malaga viticulture. There you will have the opportunity to deepen the study of oenology through its training room, tasting room and the review of the labels of Malaga wines during its golden age (1860-1960).