When I went to winemaking school in Castile-Leon, Spain I used to make the hourlong trip up highway N-630 by bus. It connected the prestigious Universidad de Salamanca to the local polytechnic faculty up north in Zamora. The bus heaved out of depots after depositing agronomical engineering students and the pensioners making the week’s run into town.
Just after the Semana Santa holy week, the hills filled with little yellow flowers. It was a welcome sight after four months of bitter cold and howling high plains winds. Our small cohort of fellow winemaker students huddled together in underground cellars barrel sampling rich local tempranillo in chilly glasses. We traversed the N-630, visiting a different vintner ever week to learn about their winemaking technique. We spent mornings on frozen, crunchy ground listening to lectures on the cycle of the vine (it was dormant then) and afternoons peering into fermentation vats (don’t fall in).
So when the sun came out and the yellow flowers bloomed, we were happy to change our snow boots for espadrilles. Then just as we had kicked up our heels and the rosés were released to market, the sun became unbearable and the high desert heat took its rightful place above the breadbasket of Spain, known locally as the tierra del pan. The agricultural area also included a long winemaking tradition. Colombus packed wine from Toro on his voyage to the Americas.
One of the coolest little villages we passed through was called El Cubo de Tierra del Vino. Our modern bus barely squeezed between the old crumbling buildings made of barro. I thought being from The Cube of the Land of Wine sounded so much cooler than being from the land of ports, such as I was.
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