In 1985 José Maria Vicente and his father set about restoring the vineyards of their family property of Casa Castilla on El Altiplano de Jumilla, or the Jumilla High Plateau, inland from the Spanish coast at Alicante. A winery, built in 1870 by French vignerons looking for somewhere to start again after the depredations of phylloxera in their homeland, already existed and vines were in place, many of them old. Once the vineyards had been restructured, 1991 saw the refurbishment of the cellars and in 1993 Casa Castilla released its maiden vintage, a monastrell (or mourvédre to use its slightly more familiar southern French synonym) of the 1991 vintage. Since then Casa Castilla has become one of the most renowned producers in south-eastern Spain thanks to the work of third-generation family member and winemaker José Maria Vicente.
Jumilla is close to Alicante on the Mediterranean coast and the monastrell grape is the principal variety of the region where its ability to withstand the heat and drought of summer, the former of which can reach 40ºC at its height, has historically been a great asset. Alongside monastrell, some of which are centurions and ungrafted, the estate grows syrah, garnacha, cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo on 170 hectares or so of terraced sandy clay soils with some limestone and gravel. The climate is considered continental, though the proximity of the Med and a bit of altitude means that the effects are somewhat softened.
Despite the torrid summer heat the vines are dry farmed and environmentally friendly practices mean that no chemicals are used in the vineyard. Very low yields here are one of the means by which high quality is achieved and the grapes are hand harvested. In the winery José Maria adopts a non-interventionist approach so that the fruit character is to the fore, particularly in the monastrell varietal wines, and the use of oak is kept to just a few months in a mix of French and American casks.
The estate is also home to many hectares of olive and almond trees which are commercially farmed.