When you take part in a trip with Rootz Wine Tours, you’ll be discovering a story that goes back over 3,000 years. Grapes for winemaking have been grown in the region of Malaga as far back as the time of the Phoenicians.
The Romans actually built a small settlement just outside Ronda known as Acinipo, meaning the city of wines. In fact, up until the end of the 19th century, the Malaga region had over 130,000 hectares of vineyard.
Most people that lived in the Montes de Malaga or the Axarquía, had their own small plot of vineyard and made their own wine in the cellar of their “Lagar”. The wine was then sent down the hillside in goatskin butts to the port where the wine was then transferred into barrels for exports.
The high quality sweet wines from Malaga were very famous during the 18th and 19th centuries and were found in many of the Royal European Courts. It is said that in 1791 Mr Galvez, the Spanish Ambassador in St Petersburg at the time, gifted 2 bottles of Malaga wine to the Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, and she enjoyed them so much she declared that all Malaga wines be exempt from import duty tax.
Unfortunately, at the end of the 19th century, phylloxera, a small insect that attacks the roots of the vines hit the region of Malaga badly and most of the wines from Ronda, the coast, Axarquía and the Montes were wiped out. The cost of replanting vines, coupled with people’s changing tastes in wine styles meant that most of the vineyard area affected was replanted with olive grove, or pine trees, as was the case in Los Montes, which is now a protected natural park.
The few vineyards that survived, mainly in Axarquía and Northern Malaga, continued to produce quality sweet wines and raisins. In 1933, the D.O. Malaga was created, one of the first D.O.’s in Spain, recognising the quality of the wines in the region. Today Malaga has three quality classification systems (Denominations of Origin); Malaga D.O., Sierras de Malaga D.O. and Raisins D.O.
More recently there has been a rebirth of wines in the region of Malaga, with dry red, rose and white wines being produced, which have been grouped together in the D.O. Sierras de Malaga founded in 2001.
Although the area under vine in Malaga has been greatly reduced, (there are now just 1,200 hectares), there is a wide variety of wine styles and grapes from indigenous local varieties to international grape varieties. The wine region of Malaga is so diverse it produces just about every style of wine from still to sparkling, from dry to sweet, and white to red, and has 5 sub regions within the D.O. (see map).
Photographs on this page are courtesy of Turismo y Planificación Costa del Sol – Malaga S.L.U./ www.visitacostadelsol.com, photographers; Isabel Gómez and José Hidalgo. Map is courtesy Consejo Regulador D.O.