Yecla is a DO (Denominación de Origen) within the Murcia autonomous community of Spain. It is the smallest and most northern of Murcia's designations and is almost completely surrounded by other DOs – Jumilla in the south and west, Alicante on its east and Almansa in the north.
Although the region is made up of a single district, the local wine community divides the area into two, based on the quality of the grapes produced. Yecla Campo Arriba is considered to be superior to Yecla Campo Abajo because the old vines in the former are responsible for the production of some of the most concentrated wines within the DO. It was accorded the appellation status in 1975.
Yecla's local industry has traditionally revolved around agriculture, with grain, oil and fruit being important products. In more recent years, however, it has become better known for its furniture making and wine. That said, winemaking has long been a proud and important part of Yecla, since it was introduced by the Phoenicians in ancient times. The region was dubbed a bodega mayor (major winery) by King Felipe II (1527–1598), a huge honor.
Yecla has continued to produce high-quality wines, and since the 1980s, a group of small growers and cooperatives have worked to produce distinctly Yecla wines, increasing its reputation even further. The region is now home to one of Spain's largest cooperatives, as well as some well-known international names such as United States filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.
Thankfully, the soil is mostly permeable limestone rock, which retains the water well. Another redeeming quality is the extension of the central La Mancha plateau, meaning that the vineyards are at an altitude of between 1,312 ft (400 m) and 2,625 ft (800 m), providing some respite for vines.
The arid and hot summers suit the Monastrell (France's Mourvèdre) grape variety. It is by far the most-planted vine responsible for the region's red wines, which were traditionally drunk young, but barrel-aged examples are increasingly being produced as quality takes precedence over quantity.
Yecla has also taken the lead in accepting international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, and Spain's very own Tempranillo. These are allowed as a part of red-wine blends. Garnacha is another red grape variety that occupies large vineyard areas here. Macabeo and Airén are the principal white grapes of the region.
The red table wines of Yecla are made in two distinct styles. The carbonic maceration method is popular with local producers for the young wines, whereas the DO's prized old vines produce rich wines capable of oak-aging. The latter has earned acclaim for the region, largely attributed to private enterprise and the adoption of modern winemaking techniques.
Aside from dry red wines, the Consejo Regulador (wine authority) authorizes the production of blanco (white), rosado (rosé), espumoso (sparkling) and vino generoso (fortified wines), although dry reds dominate production and export.