Saturday, June 8, 2013

Castilla-La Mancha

Castilla-La Mancha is a 30,000 square mile autonomous community in the middle of the Iberian penninsula of Spain.  The region constitutes 15.7% of Spain's total land mass.  It is a vast plateau with elevations from 1650-2300 feet above sealevel.  The environment is both harsh climate-wise and bleak because of its winds and lack of precipitation. Consequently this least-populated region of Spain is occupied by only two million people representing only 4.4% of Spain's total population.

The Spanish constitution of 1978 guarantees autonomy to nationalities, cultures, and traditions that historically embody a community's sense of identity.  Autonomous communities are entitled to self-rule making Spain not a federation but a highly decentralized unitary state.  Castilla-La Mancha is one of seventeen such communities in Spain along with two autonomous cities.  The hyphen in the regional name signifies a bridging between two distinct communities that were united in the constitution.

So why are we interested in this place?  Of course our business being wine and cheese probably explains everything.  Manchego cheese, as identified with Spain as Parmesan with Italy and Stilton with England, comes from Castilla-La Mancha and Protocolo, one of our best selling wine brands, hails from there also.  For that matter 15% of Spain's olive oil production comes from Castilla-La Mancha so naturally, cubed Manchego in olive oil would be another product we love to sell and for all of you who tilt at windmills in your lives, Don Quixote also came from there!

Prior to Spain joining the European Economic Community in 1986, Castilla-La Mancha was known for bulk wine and brandy production.  As we have seen elsewhere in Europe, after admittance to the club, modernization of industry soon follows.  The modern wine industry, mostly located west and southwest of La Mancha, now produces three million metric tons of grapes, a whopping 53% of Spain's total production.  While this is similar to the production of Languedoc in France and Lodi in California the pretense of each is not in evidence here. 

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