Historical landscape in the centre of Spain, geographically known as Castilla-La Mancha (Castillo-La Mancha) and formerly as New Castile (Castilla la Nueva). With almost 80,000 square kilometres, the region is the third largest in Spain after Castile-Leon (Old Castile) in the north and Andalusia in the south. La Mancha and the region of Extremadura to the west are part of the huge Meseta plateau landscape. It became particularly famous through the writer Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) and his novel "Don Quixote de la Mancha". In the huge plain with the typical windmills there are extreme climatic conditions with frosty winters down to minus 20 °C and very dry summers with often more than 40 °C (the Moorish name "Manxa = dried land" is very apt, in Spanish it means "the spot").
On average there are more than eight hours of sunshine a day, 365 days a year. Rainfall is very low, averaging 300 to 400 mm a year. The soil consists mainly of reddish-brown sand and clay with smaller limestone islands. The density of planting in the vineyards is very low (2.5 metres apart) and the crops are kept low so that each vine gets enough water due to the drought. The peculiar, chessboard-like pattern of the vineyards is called Marco real. The vineyards of this huge area, with 450,000 hectares of vines, make up about half of Spain's total vineyard area, making it clearly the largest viticultural area in the world by far.
La Mancha extends underneath Madrid almost 200 kilometres deep into the south up to the border of Andalusia. More than three quarters of the vineyard area is planted with the white grape variety Airén. It was used extensively after the phylloxera catastrophe because it is ideal for the hot and dry climate (which is why fungal diseases are almost unknown). For the most part it is used to produce simple white wines and base wines for distillates. From the mid-1980s onwards there was a change towards quality wines. When Spain entered the EU in 1986, it had to commit itself to grub up or set aside about one third of its vineyards. Other white wine varieties are Pardilla(Pardillo), Viura(Macabeo), Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The most important red wine variety is Cencibel(Tempranillo), others are Garnacha Tinta, Moravia Agria, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.