On the sun-soaked side of one of the rolling hills that define the Cariñena region of Spain, a small patch of leathery 100-year-old Garnacha vines is overrun with weeds and wild herbs

Less than half of the crop used to make wine for Bodegas San Valero is dedicated to old vine plantings, but neglect is not a common sight—or at least not one typically showcased to visitors. In fact, most of San Valero’s fields are manicured to a picture-perfect state.

Cariñena Grape

But this lot is unique—grass shoots up between the rough mix of clay and stone soil, bugs pick at the leaves, and the blustery cierzo winds kick up dust as the ancient vines wait for pruning. San Valero viticulturalist Mamen Chicote explains that the aging grower who owns the plot fell ill last year and hasn’t been able to tend to his crop. She uncorks a bottle of Garnacha made from the grapes grown right there in the field, before it was left to rot.

 

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