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Rusty Gaffney, a retired ophthalmologist has had a love affair with Pinot Noir for nearly forty years. When he retired in 2001, he decided to devote my energies to writing the PinotFile, an online newsletter that was the first wine publication exclusively devoted to Pinot Noir. Since that time, Rusty has reviewed thousands of Pinot Noirs from all over the world and shared his thoughts first with friends and now with the world at large! For information about virtually any producer, wine region or just to enjoy his ramblings on his favorite wine variety, check out PinotFile at Princeofpinot.com



I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty.

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Unique Winery in Spain

La Melonera Winery

An interesting concept put forth by Javier Suqué, winemaker from a well-established wine family in Spain to his cousin, Jorge Viladomiu Peitx – to create a winery that would pay tribute to a lifetime devoted to the cultivation vines and creation of great wines. With a group of investors they set up to find a location to make wine – using indigenous wines that had been forgotten. The region’s indigenous vines were patiently tracked down and cultivated with the intent of returning them to Ronda. Ronda, situated Andalusia region of Spain and about 70 miles from the Mediterranean had historically been a wine region with long forgotten varieties. In this spot, they set out to establish a winery with an interesting mission. Until the phylloxera plague of the mid 19th century, the region’s native grape varieties were making wine appreciated by travelers and locals alike.

The Melonera estate is a south-southwest facing and covers 500 acres at altitudes ranging between 2100 and 3000 feet – which means the daily temperature can fluctuating by 30 degrees or more in both winter and summer. Along with consistent rainfall and cooling winds coming off the Atlantic it makes a perfect spot to grow vines and to make wine.

During a recent trip to Spain, we visited at a “new” winery just outside of Ronda. Our meeting started with Almudena who is a representative of La Melonera Winery for a tour and tasting of this estate. La Melonera is trying to recover varieties from several hundred years ago and bring them back to production. The region’s indigenous vines were patiently tracked down and revived with the intent of returning them to Ronda. Gradually their work has paid off, and today, with the La Encina del Inglés and El Payoya Negra wines, what was once just a dream is now a reality.

The wine maker, Ana de Castro, a young woman who came from pharmaceutical training to become a winemaker, spent the better part of the day with us; showing us around the vineyards and tasting the three wines they are currently producing.
They have a very unique planting style – putting a small vineyard maybe the size of a football field or a littler larger in 11 different locations on a hillside. Each area has it’s own microclimate and beauty surrounded by oak trees and open areas. It is their intent to build homes adjacent to each and the owner can either make their own wine or let the co-op do it for them.
One of the varsities they have planted is melonera - the fruit looks a lot like a melon. Until they found and started planting this variety, it was not being used to make much wine.
Each of the vineyard areas is being planted in a different style. There was one, using ‘hoops’ – a very unique style. As you can see by the picture, the main part of the vine is in a circle – on the lower hoop. As the vine sends out shoots, they are trained onto the upper hoop that is slowly raised making a circle of leaves around an open center. Other plantings have the more traditional style of trellis. The use of the historic, indigenous vines is an approach I support.


A new production facility has been built which will support both the co-op operations as well as the Winery functions.
Janeen, love of my life, Ana - the wine maker, Almudena - marketing and Jorge - CEO of the operation.


All in all a quite interesting visit to a unique operation. The goal of restoring historically significant varieties to the region long lost is interesting. The operation has only been underway for the last 10 years and has a long way to go but the approach is interesting and I would certainly return for a visit during my next trip to Spain.



Do you have comments or suggestions? Email to david@loverofwine.com