One of the things we like a lot is finding a place to spend the night late in the evening and waking up to something amazing we couldn’t see when we arrived. This was what happened when we woke up at Neleman Organic Vineyards.
Rain and storm
Our initial plan was to explore Requena in the province of Valencia. The old part of the town has a lot of historic buildings and also a labyrinth of caves used as wine and oil cellars in the old days. Right up our alley.
BUT after spending 3 days at the parking lot dedicated to motorhomes, we had to leave. It was raining and storming all the time, something we’re used to once in a while, but little by little our batteries died, because our solar panels had no chance of charging them.
Being inside for a few days is fine, but when we can’t charge our laptops and phones it gets a little boring. Plus our compressor fridge runs on electricity too, so we needed power badly!
On the evening of day three, we used our CamperContact app to find a campsite with electricity and then we left. But we’ll be back to explore Requena for sure.
Best sleep in weeks
After driving in the pitch-black countryside for about an hour we came to the small village called Casas del Rey. The King’s houses. We couldn’t find the campsite, so we ended up in the very narrow streets, where we met an old lady with a dog. We asked her if she knew where the campsite was, but she didn’t. She was sure Maria just around the next corner did though, but we never found Maria only even more narrow streets.
After a while, we decided to drive to the outskirts of the village where we had seen the sign of Neleman’s Vineyard. Maybe we could ask someone there? It turned out that there was no one there, but we found the parking lot and the plug for electricity and we could exhale calmly again.
That calm and the fact that the night was so quiet gave us the best sleep in weeks. Especially the past few nights had been bad due to the storm rocking our RV all the time.
It’s funny how you can drive for an hour and all of a sudden there’s no more storm and the night sky is so clear that you can see all the stars.
Originally Casas del Rey was called Casa de Juan Ullán (House of Juan Ullán), but in 1706 Archduke Charles of Austria (may have) stayed in the village, which was obviously enough to change the name.
These days only 36 people live in the village and to be honest, everything looks a bit abandoned. But all the people we met there were kind, smiling and helpful.
Let's get to the point!
When we opened the door the next day, we were surrounded by fields of vines, lavender, olives and all sorts of other trees and plants. This place was amazing!
After a cup of coffee, we took Avenger for a walk and everywhere we went we didn’t just see plants for wine production, but also plants especially good for bees (like the lavender), bug hotels and even a lot of small houses for bats.
An insect hotel, also known as a bug hotel, is a manmade structure created to provide shelter for insects. Most consist of several different sections that provide insects with nesting facilities, particularly during winter, offering shelter or refuge for many types of insects.
Bat houses provide a safe environment for bats, while protecting the vineyard from pest insects, such as mosquitoes, moths, and beetles. Bat houses give females a safe, warm place to raise their young.
Normally it can take up to two years for bats to move into the houses, but these were occupied after just a few months.
Neleman is sustainable in so many ways. Not only do they make organic wine and bug hotels, but the way they expand their production is carefully incorporated into nature too.
Right now they have a couple of empty fields with no vines on them. While they wait for permissions and documents from the town hall (There are regulations on how many industrial grape vines there can be in Spain), they do some amazing groundwork.
They’ve prepared the soil to plant even more lavender there, to attract bees and build up an even bigger ecosystem on the new fields and surroundings. When that’s in place, they’ll plant the new vines.
It’s such a gentle way to expand the production in harmony with nature. We love it!
You might have noticed the pink color in this blog post and it’s made to match the color of Neleman. When we asked about this very special color, the answer was that it’s just a color. A color that people notice that is.
Neleman works as a cooperative owned and run jointly by its members, who share the profits and benefits.
There are 3 vineyards, but this one in Casas del Rey is the only one with a showroom and here they only produce red wine.
45.000 bottles of organic red wine are produced here each year and the brewing is based on old traditional Spanish methods enhanced with new knowledge.
Some types of wine are made in concrete “pods” where the wine oxygenates without getting the taste of wood that the types made in wooden barrels do.
The wooden barrels are handmade by a cooper and whenever there’s a small leak or anything he comes to fix it because he puts a lot of pride in his barrels.
When the grapes are ripe they’re hand-picked, put in crates and carried into the winery. Here they’re gently put on a big table and the winery’s 10 employees sort the grapes. All bad or non-ripe grapes are thrown away and from there the winemaking itself begins.
Marcos gave us a great tour, but to be honest there was too much technical information for us to remember (we are not wine nerds). One thing we learned though was, that no one at Neleman stomp the grapes with their feet.
Instead the grapes are put into these vessels where the first part of the process takes place.
We ended our tour by tasting some of the many different wines made by Neleman and it’s been a long time since we’ve tasted wine that good. It wasn’t hard to taste all the love behind the winemaking.
We bought the one with the bike on it and we’re looking forward to enjoying it for our next special occasion (a regular Wednesday a good meal or something else). Unfortunately we don’t have much space to spare, otherwise we would have bought a few bottles more.
A wide selection of wine
If you like wine you should absolutely put Neleman on your must-see list for the next time you go to Spain. If you’re driving in a motorhome the price for a night is 10€. Electricity and the shower is free and you can also discharge water and fill your RV with fresh water for free (November 2022 price)
As an extra bonus you even park for free if you buy wine for 40€ or more.
Let us know in the comments what you think about this blog post and if you plan on visiting Neleman Organic Vineyards.
(This blog post is not sponsored in any way. Our recommendation is solely based on how we feel about the place and we paid for both wine and stay ourselves)