Determined to find the much-talked-about bodega in Moclinejo, I made Michelle stop at what turned out to be an enormous warehouse on the outskirts of the town. Although it wasn’t quite the winery I was looking for, the visit turned out to be most fortuitous as we were met by José Luis Muñoz, great grandson of the founder of Bodega Antonio Muñoz Cabrera. José Luis spends his time between the company’s laboratory (we learned a lot about the science behind wine-making that morning!) and the museum actually in Moclinejo itself, which forms part of the original bodega and family home.
Bodega Antonio Muñoz Cabrera was founded in 1927 by Juan Muñoz Navarrete, but it wasn’t until 1963 that the company got its name when Juan handed over the reins to his son, Antonio. Since then the company has built up a huge range of wines, won a number of awards and is developing its first sparkling wine.
José Luis took us down to the bodega and museum, located in the town centre, where he gave us an unplanned and hugely insightful guided tour, explaining the history of this family-run company which is now in its fourth generation. He also gave us a bottle of the multi-award winning Zumbral sweet wine, which I can say is extremely good!! Tours of the museum / bodega in English can be given by arrangement, by emailing Ignacio: email@example.com
As you walk up the narrow street away from the museum and towards the main square, Plaza de España, you are hit by an explosion of colour; colourful mosaic patterns, using recycled tiles cover the walls leading up to the town’s contemporary art museum, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Antonio Segovia Lobillo, which can be accessed via the town hall on the main square, or up the tiled steps (recycled of course!). Look out for the different colour ladybirds above the entrance to the museum and around the town! Opening times: Monday to Friday from 9am to 2pm, Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays from 12 to 1.30 and 3.30 to 5pm. Contact: 952 400 586
The recycled mosaics are the creation of culture councillor, Antonio Montañez, who also runs the Casa Museo Axarquía in El Valdéz, a village belonging to Moclinejo. The museum pays tribute to art and culture typical of the Axarquía and can be easily identified by its brightly coloured exterior. For more information about the museum and opening house visit www.casamuseoaxarquia.es
On Plaza de España, Cerámicas Moclinejo is run by the extremely talented Chari Ruíz. Her workshop is located at the back of the shop so you can see her at work while perusing the beautifully handcrafted items on display. In her spare time Chari also runs the local branch of the Malaga astronomy society and holds events in the town. Information posters outside the shop give details of forthcoming activities.
Visitors to the town a greeted by an impressive arch at the entrance, with a small fortress to one side. The views from here through to the whitewashed town, as well as down to the sea really are breathtaking as the town is situated 432 metres above sea level.
Other things to look out for in and around Moclinejo include the Manchón de las Minas, which is just two kilometres from the town; according to legend the Manchón de la Minas form a series of entrances to silver mines. However, the story goes that the mines were closed as it was too difficult to drain the amount of water that entered the mines, making excavation difficult. Hard to imagine nowadays with the drought!
Moclinejo is the start of the Ruta de la Pasa (raisin route) and every year in September the town celebrates its most important product with the Fiesta de los Viñeros (wine festival). This year it falls on 9 September and the festival is a tribute to the people who work in the industry, with demonstrations explaning the cultivation of grapes, the elaboration process and live grape treading…yes, with bare feet we are led to believe! The festival also includes traditional Verdiales music and paella for all as well as wine tastings.
Incidentally, José Luis explained to us that while he remembers treading the grapes with his feet, the family business has since let machines take over…perhaps that’s where the idea that cheese and wine go so well together comes from?
Other festivals celebrated in Moclinejo include Carnival in February, Easter Week and El Paso (live representation of the Passion Play) in March or April, culture weeks and a livestock fair. Finally El Valdés feria takes place in July, while Moclinejo’s happens in August.
There are bars and restaurants around Plaza de España that offer breakfast, tapas and main meals. There are also plenty of hiking and mountain biking routes around the town. For further information contact the town hall (www.moclinejo.es)
To get to Moclinejo, either take the 256 exit from the A7 motorway and follow the MA 3200 to Benagalbón, which turns into the MA3119 after Benagalbón up to Moclinejo. There are buses from Malaga city (bus station at the port).
Written by Jennie Rhodes
Photographs taken by Rob Bell Photography
and The Directory magazine
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