The Story Of A Bodega: Electric Wine And Spain’s Oldest Wine Press

Spanish wines are considered some of the best in the world, many of them produced in family-owned wineries with centuries of tradition. Here’s a story about one of them.

The history of this Cordoba bodega began in 1922, when its founder, José María Toro Albala, decided to plant La Noria vineyard on the slopes at the foot of Castillo de Aguilar de la Frontera. At the time, the family was already engaged in winemaking and produced a traditional wine, which was made using techniques that had nothing to do with the modern bodega techniques used today.

Toro Albalá Bodega at the beginning of the 20th century

At that time, the wine was sold in village taverns, and production was housed in a former power plant, which had been converted a few years earlier and was located in the village itself. This was the place chosen to store the barrels of wine, the originality of which many still celebrate to this day.

The wine produced at the power station was sold under the name of “electrico”, which completely renewed the language of the locals: in bars you can usually hear customers, with their own sense of humour, ordering an “electric shock” or asking how many “volts” are in the wine. 

This is where the wine “electrico” used to be stored

Despite the long history of the bodega, the fame in the rest of Spain came much later, almost a hundred years later, when the family winery was taken over by Antonio Sanchez, nephew of the founder. With his arrival a real transformation took place. Thanks to the professionalism of this oenologist, the winery became a success: before taking over the management of the family business, Antonio had time to demonstrate his skills in other bodegas of the region. One of his most important professional achievements was the creation of the first young white wine in the area.

Museum and grapes

However, Antonio wanted to have more than just a bodega, he wanted to create a kind of bridge between past and present by combining the winery with a museum of archeology and literature about the world of winemaking. Today, Toro Albalá is the only bodega in Andalucía and Spain to offer tourists a programme of culture and entertainment within its walls.

The estate has a unique museum containing around 4000 exhibits relating to the world of wine and winemaking technology – tools, machines, and books. Among the treasures of the collection, the wine press holds a special place – according to Antonio, the oldest in Spain.

Many of the artefacts have been preserved in the museum

Bodega today

As well as wine, the winery makes an unusual product – very old vinegar, the existence of which was kept secret until the right time to release it on the market. Today, you can buy balsamic vinegars of up to 50 years’ maturity! And among the wines, after much research into the creation of young white wine, an unconventional product, completely new to the Andalusian region of Montilla-Moriles, is about to emerge.

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