The high Meseta plateau is enormous, and with the exception of a few small hills, is a vast plain. The wine-growing areas include the DO territories of Vinos de Madrid and Mentrida (below Madrid), La Mancha and Valdepeñas (between Madrid, Ciudad Real and Albacete), and the brand new DO of Ribera del Guadiana in Extremadura, close to the border with Portugal.
A quick glance at a wine map of Spain will reveal that Valdepeñas is actually an enclave in the southern part of La Mancha. The traditional trading centre of Valdepeñas lies at the heart of the wine-growing area that bears its name. Valdepeñas is situated somewhat lower than the rest of the Meseta in a broad valley encircled by small hills on the boundary between the Meseta en Andalucía.
The Spanish wine from Valdepeñas, in common with much of the Meseta, was thick, sticky, and very alcoholic. It was as if time had stood still with the same type of wine being produced at the start of the nineteenth century that had been made in Roman times. The wine was stored in huge earthenware jugs or tinajas, often covered by nothing more than a couple of straw mats. When the railway reached Valdepeñas in 1861 it was decided to improve the quality of the Spanish wines. Less wine was made but of better quality and it was sold to wealthy consumers in Madrid, on the coast, and even as far afield as the Americas and the Philippines.