Parra Jiminez

It may seem hard to believe, but in 1993, when the brothers, Francisco, Javier and Luis Parra founded Parra Family Organic, the idea of Organic certification was a new one. But the brothers decided it was a natural thing for them to pursue, given their long history of sustainable farming.

Francisco says:

Organic certification was thought of as being highly eccentric when we started. When we explained what we were planning to do to the people around here, it made them nervous. But to us, it just made sense. Our family has always farmed in La Mancha. Some of us kept sheep. An uncle even had a vineyard. And the way we always worked our land was the traditional way, free from pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers.”

So, they did things the way they had always done them and the world took notice. Today Parra Family Organic wines are 100 percent NOP-certified and the Parra brothers are the largest producers of Organic wines in Europe. It’s a position many wineries are now working very hard to be in, but for the Parras it never felt like anything special. “Some people call it Organic farming,” Francisco says, “for us it is just a continuation of what our family has always done.”

 

Parra Family Organic was founded in 1993 by three brothers: Francisco, Javier and Luis. In spite of the size of the business – Parra Family Organic sells around four million bottles a year – the brothers alone handle most of the office work and are intimately involved in the workings of the cellar and the vineyard. Everyone helps out with everything, but if pressed Francisco will admit he does a bit more in the way of sales and marketing, while Javier concentrates more on winemaking. Luis does some of everything and is very involved in his passion: raising pigeons.

 

The single most important facet of Spanish geography is La Meseta, the high desert plateau that dominates the center of the country. It is a flat, arid expanse of some 80,000 square miles-close to half the surface area of Spain-and ranges in altitude between 600 to 1,000 meters above sea level. Spain’s capital city, Madrid, sits in the very middle of the Meseta. Hope into a car and drive southeast of the capital and you’ll find yourself in La Mancha, a historic region characterized by rugged scenery, lonely castles, windmills, herds of sheep and the legacy of Miguel de Cervantes who set his book, Don Quixote, the defining work of Spanish literature, in La Mancha.

The Parra family works two large vineyards in La Mancha near the town of Las Mesas (The Tables), totaling some 445 acres, or around 180 hectares. One of the vineyards is named Entresendas (Between Paths). It sits in the dried bed of an ancient river. As a result Entresendas benefits from the rich, Alluvial soils, common to old river beds and perfect for the cultivation of grapes. The other vineyard is officially named Olla del Monte (Cooking Pan in the Mountain), but is known in local slang as Cuesta Colorá, the red slope. Cuesta Colorá is also the name of the Parra family’s remarkable sulfite-free wine. The red slopes are covered in chalky clay with a fine layer of pebbles atop it that capture the heat of the sun and keep the grapes warm during La Mancha’s chilly desert nights.

Francisco Parra says.

La Mancha is not a zone with a great deal of prestige in comparison to places like Bordeaux or La Rioja, but the conditions here are ideal for growing grapes and we put a great deal of love and attention in our vineyards and the fruit that comes out of them.”