The history of the Tomelloso wine chimneys, a unique architecture in Spain

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Tomelloso is a reference in wine production in Spain. 50% of the vineyard area of ​​all Spain is in this area, with half a million hectares dedicated to the cultivation of the vine. It is also the world’s leading producer of wine-based alcohol. An activity with centuries of tradition that managed to transform the La Mancha town to draw an own architecture e incomparable.

Proof of this are the chimneys, large monoliths that decorate the urban landscape of the city, of about 38,000 inhabitants, and located at an altitude of 662 meters in the center of the La Mancha plain.

These brick buildings, built next to the distillation towers, They served to vent the smoke from the large boilers that, by means of the combustion of wood or coal, provided the suitable temperature for the operation of the distillation coil of the old alcoholic factories.

Thanks to its size -some reached 45 meters in height- they exerted aspiration without the need for fans or any other mechanical aid, at the same time that they raised the smoke to a sufficient height so that it did not descend again and blacken the floor.

Example of the wine chimneys of Tomelloso
Example of the wine chimneys of Tomelloso

An evidence of the aesthetic importance that the chimneys came to have is that the construction of those of 20 meters or more was reserved for highly specialized masters, since, apart from their function, they were the most emblematic and striking elements of the distillery.

Although it was in the middle of the 18th century when the vine began to be introduced among the Tomelloso crops, the time of greatest apogee occurred during the last quarter of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, in which it became practically a monoculture. Moreover, around 1950 there were more than 100 distilleries in the town. Currently 19 large ones (over 20 meters) and 17 small ones (less than 20 meters) are preserved.

You can visit (even at night when they are illuminated) the one on Domecq street, the one in the Parque Urbano Martínez, the one in the Chimney neighborhood or the one in Julián Besteiro street, among others.

Visitable caves

In this wine-making tradition, apart from the chimneys, the caves that were enabled in the past due to the great needs of wine production and storage under exceptional conditions of light, humidity and temperature. Of the 4,000 that existed in the period of greatest splendor, around 600 remain, of which approximately 50 can be visited.

To visit the interior of the caves, an appointment is required at the Tomelloso Tourist Office.

See them
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