In order to talk about the manufacture of Manchego cheeses in Finca Villadiego, the historical location of this Finca should not be overlooked.
Finca Villadiego is located in the surroundings of Alarcos Castle in Ciudad Real, part of which is placed in the historic area of such castle. In this location, the Battle of Alarcos took place on July 19, 1.195 BC. In the course of it, the Christians were expelled from the Alarcos Castle after a stratagem plotted by the Muslims, who hid themselves taking advantage of the night after the only hill near the castle called “hill of the fishermen”. At dawn, a small part of Muslims stood before the town that surrounded the castle. Meanwhile, the unwary Christians, seeing the small number of assailants, decided to leave the walls to fight them in the plains. However, they confronted them by surprise; the vast majority of the invaders surrounded the castle by the hills where the Fort “The Cliff” was situated and took the Christian soldiers by surprise again, which were largely depleted. The survivors along with the rest of the civilian population decided to fight in retreat by the fertile plain of the Guadiana river towards Toledo (from there the famous phrase of “taking those of Villadiego” could proceed), leaving the field free to the Muslims for the practically total town and fortifications’ destruction.
Another historical characteristic of Finca Villadiego is the passage of Don Quixote of La Mancha, in which he walked along these lands and the river margin mentioned previously. His presence in these lands is proved in Chapter XXI (I), “tell me your mercy what we will do from this horse, a grey horse that looks like a brown ass, that left here helpless that martino that your mercy overthrew, that according to him he put his feet in dusty and took those of Villadiego, it does not take pergenio to never return by him”.
Regarding the history of Villadiego cheese factory in La Mancha, it is not known exactly how long it has been working due to the fact that, from its beginnings, it had been producing Manchego cheese in a traditional way. At first, it was the same shepherd that took care of the sheep who was in charge of both milking and making Manchego cheese with the characteristic tools of the time. Such tools are still preserved with the idea of being able to make a small museum in homage to the evolution of Manchego cheese.
Recently, a micro historical study of “Finca Villadiego” has been carried out finding documents dating back to 1840. It can be deduced that from that date onwards, Manchego cheese was already made.
The previous photograph shows the remains of the depleted Alarcos Castle in the background and the current location of the Manchegan Cheese Factory on the left-hand side. The rest of the land that you see belongs to our Finca, as it consists of more than 1.000 hectares at practically full use for the self-supply of food of our sheep, sowing annually, barley, corn and alfalfa as well as most pastures for livestock.