The cab ride from Bodega Francisco Mendoza back to Villena was short and uneventful. We didn’t know what to expect at Casa de Felix as we opened the abbreviated wooden door into our apartment. We had left the mini-split’s heat pump on since we left around lunchtime, hoping the bedroom would be warm and cozy when we returned from wine tasting. It wasn’t. The adjacent kitchen and bathroom were at least 10 degrees colder than the barely warmer bedroom. Outside, the wind wailed and rain battered the windows, ensuring an even chillier night to come.

Fortunately, we had picked up survival supplies – wine, a fresh baguette, and a wedge of Iberian cheese, a perfect wine country dinner. But this tapas-like nosh would be more like camping – minus the campfire. While Mary sliced some bread and cheese, I poured some wine and then turned the heat up to maximum, which also raised the noise coming from the heat pump by several decibels.

The kitchen/living room was too cold, so we each took sanctuary in the bedroom on our twin beds, puffers still on and a glass of wine in hand. The noisy heat pump couldn’t compete with the frigid drafts sailing through the apartment. We closed the thin curtain separating the bedroom from the kitchen and crawled under the comforter topped with wool blankets we found in the bedroom armoire. Toasty at last.

We would survive the night. But the noise from the heater was too loud for any real rest. We finally turned the fan down reducing the loud rattle to a tolerable level, crossed our fingers the heat we had would hold, and slept.

The next morning we couldn’t leave Casa de Felix fast enough. We debated whether to catch the first train back to Alicante or stay a couple more hours to do our last scheduled wine tasting here. Given train schedules, we chose to keep our appointment with Bodega las Virtudes.

We made the right decision. Bodega las Virtudes is an urban winery, not far from the center of Villena. It’s a co-op owned by more than 400 wine enthusiasts located in an industrial section of the city. It was far from the grand estate we had visited the day before, but their history and wines were exceptional. And we had an opportunity to taste their excellent Fondillon, the fabled ancient Spanish wine of kings, queens, and other notables. It was excellent and we bought a small bottle as a souvenir.

Despite, and more likely due to the considerable challenges, our Villena Wine Country visit ranks as one of our most memorable. Although we will do our best not to repeat it anytime soon. Cheers!