There are several areas in the various autonomous regions of Spain that are distinguished for the high-quality wine they produce in their wineries. Producers have established their vineyards in zones with optimum conditions to be able to carry out their wine-producing business, which for some goes back through several generations.
Each wine route detailed below encompasses the whole wine-growing area, not just one or two vineyards or producers in particular. It is possible to tour each area and visit quite a number of different bodegas to see how they function and to taste their wines.
For lovers of travel and the grape nectar, going on one, or several, of these routes is the perfect way to visit perhaps lesser well-known parts of Spain while combining history, architecture, culture, nature, fresh air, good food and, of course, good wine all at the same time.
The Penedés wine region is situated about an hour south of Barcelona and the wonderful beaches of Sitges, so would be well worth a visit if you fancy a different view to the city or beach. Its surroundings are unique and characterized by vineyards stretching for miles around, rolling valleys, sheltered hills and traditional rural accommodation. There are 153 different vineyards, or ‘bodegas’ that make up the region, many of which are family run and have been for centuries. Penedés is renowned for the production of white wines and also for cava, the Spanish version of France’s champagne, although rosés and reds are also produced here as well. As well as visiting the Penedés bodegas, you can also carry out plenty of other exciting activities such as bike tours, walking, historical and museum visits and, of course, taking part in the local fiestas held at the end of August.
La Ruta del Vino y Brandy del Marco de Jerez
The wine and brandy route of Jerez is the oldest wine-growing region in the whole of Europe and goes back to Phoenician times. It is located in the southwest part of Spain’s most southern autonomous region and is bordered by the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, the Atlantic Ocean, the Natural Park of Doñana and the green Jerez countryside.
This route for wine and brandy takes in nine different municipalities in the region of Andalucía: Chiclana, Chipiona, El Puerto de Santa María, Lebrija, Puerto Real, Rota, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Trebujena.
Just strolling around the city of Jerez and the whole of the municipality, you can see how important the wine-producing industry is here. The streets seem to live, breathe and exhibit anything related to the wine tradition that is so rooted in this part of the country.
As you may well know, Jerez is famous across the globe for the sherry and brandy that is produced there, and there are plenty of opportunities to check out bodegas of both.
Jerez is a pretty buzzing area where visitors won’t be stuck for things to do. There’s the spectacular horse shows at the Andalusian Royal Academy of Equestrian Art, cooking courses, dancing and flamenco, golf, art, gastronomy and so much more.
La Rioja Alta
The Rioja wine region is perhaps the most famous and distinguished in Spain and outside of the country too. The reputation of the wines to come out from this wine-producing zone is second-to-none and the range of wines is interminable. Some are produced in vineyards that have opted for the most technologically advanced methods, whilst others have stuck to the most traditional ways of production. Neither one nor the other seems to prove better, as the majority of bottles have been noted as some of the most prestigious in the country. One of the best ways of familiarizing yourself with the region is to take the Vinobus tour, which allows visits to a number of vineyards in the area. La Rioja also has a rich artistic and historical background and has plenty to offer the tourist in terms of museums, exhibitions and architecture. The countryside is also spectacular as the vineyards are surrounded by the Toloño, Cantabria and Demanda mountain ranges and the River Ebro. Don’t forget the Dinosaur Route (La Senda de los Dinosaurios), a 100km route with some of the best fossil collections in Spain.
Ribera del Duero
Between the cities of Valladolid, Burgos, Segovia and Soria, following the course of the River Duero, you’ll find the Ribera del Duero wine-producing region that offers a unique fusion of history, architecture, art and wine. As well as visiting some of Spain’s most respected bodegas, this area also attracts many tourists to its other places of interest, which include the Vino de Peñafiel Museum in Valladolid and the many ancient castles, fortresses, archaeological sites and palaces that mark the landscape. The Tempranillo grape, native to the Duero, is the star variety of the vineyards within the Duero basin, which boasts exceptional climate and soil conditions for the cultivation of the vines here. Some of the country’s most noteworthy red wines, Crianzas, Reservas and Gran Reservas originate from the wine cellars of La Ribera del Duero.
La Rioja Alavesa
The wines that stem from the wineries of La Rioja Alavesa have become extremely popular on the international market in recent years, which is why this route is a must-see for those interested in the wine-making business. The route comprises around 50 different bodegas, wine collections and museums, many of which have opened their doors to welcome the visitor and offer a glimpse into the workings of their factory. Some even allow guests to participate in the elaboration procedure as part of the tour. For those that would prefer not to drive, they can take the Enobus.
Las Rías Baixas
This wine route allows the visitor to take in and get to know the best of Galicia and the northwest of the country. The Rías Baixas extends across the west half of the region, from Santiago de Compostela up to the Portuguese border. The majority of the territory is made up of little fishing villages, Galician manor houses and monasteries. One of these seafaring villages is Cambados, one of the largest producers of the Albariño wine that comes from the region. Gastronomy also plays an important role in this area, and the two are often combined in the many fiestas that are organized here throughout the year, such as the Fiesta del Marisco, which takes place in October, or the Fiesta de la Langosta on the last Sunday in June where the locals pay homage to their typical seafood, the lobster.
The Somontano route and wine region is located in the Pyrenees, at the base of the mountains in Huesca. It crosses the regions of Cataluña, Navarra and the Basque Country. There are ample wine cellars to visit here, which are all set in a stunning and unique landscape. Nature lovers can practise outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling in the Natural Park of the Cañones de Guara, while wine enthusiasts will want to take part in the Festival del Vino de Somontano, which takes place during the first weekend of August. Over the course of four evenings, visitors will be delighted by the best food and wine of the region and entertained by a host of different theatre, music and magical talents.
This route situated just a few kilometres from the coast in the region of Valencia, is well-known for the excellent quality of its rosés and reds in particular. The Bobal grape variety is used a lot here in the production of their wines, and the curious thing is that it is one of the very few places in the world that does so. The Utiel-Requena region comprises quite a few routes that allows the visitor to not only become acquainted with the many bodegas but also appreciate the beauty of the natural surroundings as well.
The wine route of Jumilla is the most important within the region of Murcia. It is located in the northeast of the region in the enclave between the surrounding regions of Castilla-La Mancha, Andalusia and Valencia, and archaeological findings indicate that wine has been cultivated here for at least 5,000 years. Despite the harsh weather conditions, particularly during the summer, Jumilla’s reputation for producing wine is outstanding. The Monastrell grape, very popular with Murcian viticulturists, is able to thrive under these severe climate conditions, whereas others would perish. All the bodegas along the route are open to visitors and offer interesting guided tours about the winery, the tradition and the products. Obviously, with wine occupying such a significant role within the town, celebrations are held throughout the year in its honour. One of the most popular fiestas is the Fiesta de la Vendimia, which usually takes place in August.