BRIEF HISTORICAL OUTLINE ON THE VINEYARD IN THE “RIBERA DEL JÚCAR” REGION.
It is perhaps because of historical reasons or perhaps due to the agro-climatic characteristics and undoubtedly, perhaps due to economic matters that cultivation of grapes along with grain farming has deep roots in the region. Perhaps the question should be what type of crop used to be found here before the vines were planted in these fields? The older folks in the area have even mentioned that they have always seen vineyards sharing the fields with crops of cereal and “zumaque” (Sumac).
Documentation is available in which it is seen that in the year 1613 a Dr. Xpobal of Tébar Origuela and Balençuela makes a donation to the Society of Jesus. – “... a few homesteads and inheritance of some vines… on stony ground, in the jurisdiction of San Clemente, which they call “Casas de Fernando Alonso”… and that is of much value”. – The stone enclosed plot of land with 53,000 vines of “Maxuelo” variety grapes in “Casas de Fernando Alonso” were meant as a means of sustenance for the Society of Jesus and outside of the enclosure they had about 500 almudes (an ancient Arabic unit of volume measurement) stored for wheat and barley. There was also a Holm Oak hillock with capacity for about 690 almudes”-.
A private census registry for “Casas de Fernando Alonso” also exists that, according to the data it contains, is absolutely fabulous, and it refers to the enumeration of the different social aspects of each individual, the same dating from the year 1753 and from which a few details and outlines can be highlighted (Montero, 2001):
-“Our village did at the time enjoy a population of 134 neighbors, bringing it to a total of 513 inhabitants, of which 256 were male and 257 were female”.-
-“The dwellers of this Hamlet had about five thousand “grain almudes” to their name, along with three-hundred of vines and another three-hundred of olives”.-
.-“All production of cereal grain included its levies: in the case of barley, thirteen and a half “fanegas” per almude; in wheat, three and a half per almude; in wetchling, exactly the same, and in the case of rye and oats, the same, with an almude sown with saffron bulbs yielding ten pounds, eight arrobas (ancient Arabic measurement) of wine per vineyard and three arrobas of olive oil in the case of an almude with olive tree crop”.-
.-“A fanega of wheat was worth eighteen “reales” (old Spanish coin), with the fanega of wetchling being worth the same, although in the case of rye it was worth twelve reales and eight in the case of barley, while an arroba of wine was worth four reales”.-
.-“To be found in the town were four hundred heads of sheep, sixty pigs, one mare, twenty-seven mules and fifty donkeys”.-
.-“There were twenty houses, all with a single floor or built on the ground floor, with neither a tavern or inn nor a butcher or shop. There was only a roof tile furnace, with its production standing at eight thousand roof tiles a year. Each inhabitant was responsible for making their own bread, with most taking the grain to the Júcar mills to grind their wheat to obtain flour”.-
On another part, Martínez (1982) refers to the situation in Sisante, Vara de Rey and its hamlets (Pozoamargo and Casas de Benítez) where all matters revolve around “how to obtain the salary that is to be paid to the Mayor”
- The Council of Castilla says that the salary is to be paid by the towns of Sisante, Vara de Rey and its hamlets, in proportional fashion to the number of neighbors and estates.
- The Mayor makes this known to the authorities of the town of Vara de Rey, with the town responding that it is poor and has no money.
- Once again the Council of Castilla insists that the money for the Mayor must be somehow obtained from the neighbors.
- Vara de Rey also insists that they cannot burden the neighbors with further levies and they try to find the solution by marking out land to lease out to livestock breeders and thus pay the Mayor with the amount obtained.
- On the date of January 22 of 1752 the Council of Castilla grants permission to mark-out the land, as long as this is not in detriment of the bordering towns and hamlets of the joint owned areas of Aragón.
- The town of Roda y Minaya complains, being in opposition to the event, as they write to the Council saying that Sisante and Vara de Rey produce a lot of wine, saffron, oil and that they enjoy a considerable level of trade.
- In the month of June of 1754 the town of La Roda writes to the Superintendent Mayor of Income of Cuenca, requesting information on the fruits, income, taxes… etc. of the towns of Sisante, Vara de Rey and its hamlets.
- The answer arrives in July of that same year in the shape of a complete report that thus reads:
.-“...Informing that according to an estimated calculation of the crop, by (for) Vara de Rey more or less the fruits that are indicated separately below:
Regulation for neighbors and Estate Owners of Vara de Rey: Wheat 9,001 almudes, Barley 7,543 almudes, Rye 3,104 almudes, Oats 5,922 almudes, Chickpeas 18 almudes, Wetchling 600 almudes, Wine 4,200 arrobas, Oil 200 arrobas and Saffron 800 pounds.
Ditto these and those of the hamlets of Pozoamargo and Casas de Benítez: Wheat 18,019 almudes, Barley 10,978 almudes, Rye 7,742 almudes, Oats 5,922 almudes, Chickpeas 49 almudes, Wetchling 712 almudes, Wine 7,532 arrobas, Saffron 1,098 pounds and Sumac 170 almudes”.-
- The Council of Castile ordered that the neighbors of La Roda undergo interrogation:
.-”...Upon the eleventh question he said: Saue and he is aware of the fact due to his knowledge and dealings with the neighbors of the hamlets of Pozoamargo and Casas de Benítez, close to Casas de Fernando Alonso, his town of origin; that they are also estate owners and traders and that they have very good crops of wine and saffron, being more than capable of covering the better part of the Mayor’s salary in the case that the same was to be shared out…”.-
In the 18th C, more specifically in 1787; Tomas López, geographer for the King requested that the towns corresponding to the Bishopric of Cuenca and other provinces undergo an inquiry (Martines, 1982).
Thus is the reply of the town of Sisante.-“...There is an abundance of pine trees, Holm oaks and low-lying bushes. The term stands at 32,812 almudes of land, of which 12,511 cannot be cultivated…”.- no less than 38% of the town’s land cannot be farmed, as it is scrubland.
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