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Touring Spain on the Grapevine

altafulla / Shutterstock
altafulla / Shutterstock
The third largest wine producer in the world, Spain is a veritable treasure-trove of vineyards. From refreshing Albariños in northwest Spain to the old vine Garnachas of the Meseta Central to the sweet dessert wines of Andalucía, you’re sure to discover a varietal that pleases your palate. Here are five major Spanish wine regions that every wine lover should visit.

1.) Galicia

Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock

Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock

Located in northwestern Spain, Galicia’s landscape is not what one would imagine in Spain. This lush, green region provides the perfect environment to grow Albariño grapes to produce the crisp whites that have become popular within the past decade, certainly in the U.S. Mencia grapes are also grown in this region, which can be used to make aromatic red wines. One of the major tourist attractions of this region is the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which is also the destination for pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago.

2.) Meseta Central

JOSE RAMIRO LAGUNA / Shutterstock

JOSE RAMIRO LAGUNA / Shutterstock

Spain’s inner plateau provides a unique environment for growing grapes. The vineyards are hot and dry, but most are located at high altitudes (the area has an average elevation of 2,300-2,600 feet), which means that nighttime temperatures can be mild. This means it’s the perfect place to cultivate Monastrell, Syrah, Tempranillo and Garnacha—all names that have become synonymous with Spanish reds worldwide. Spain’s capital city of Madrid is located in this region, which means after you finish sipping your red wine you can visit some of the finest art museums in the world.

3.) Mediterranean Coast

Alexander Tihonov / Shutterstock

Alexander Tihonov / Shutterstock

The massive wine-producing region that lies along the Mediterranean Coast is comprised of the diverse sub-regions of Valencia, Catalonia and Murcia. If you love sparkling wines, don’t miss Catalonia, known for its extensive Cava production. This sub-region also produces reds in the Priorat zone. Valencia and Murcia are the ideal regions for producing wines out of Monastrell (known for their ruby hues and fruity undertones) and for flavorful whites made from Malvasia and Airén grapes. Of course, the coastal scenery is also hard to beat.

4.) Ebro River Valley

Noradoa / Shutterstock

Noradoa / Shutterstock

Home to the sub-regions of La Rioja and Navarra, the Ebro River Valley is known for Tempranillo (an earthy, spicy red) and rosado (rosé) of Garnacha production. Major vineyards (called bodegas in Spain) include Lopez de Heredia and Marques de Murrieta. White wine fans, take heart—this region also produces oak-aged white wines of Verdejo and Viura, for example. In addition to wine tasting, there are plenty of outdoor adventures to experience while you’re in the ruggedly beautiful Ebro River Valley.

5.) Andalucía

ronnybas / Shutterstock

ronnybas / Shutterstock

Sweet wine lovers should definitely head south. The hot and dry region of Andalucía is perfect for growing grapes that will eventually become Sherry. In fact, there is a beautiful area known as the Sherry Triangle, which consists of the towns Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria in the province of Cádiz. These culturally rich towns are accustomed to visitors and boast some of the best restaurants in Spain. The nearby Montilla-Moriles province is known for fortified dessert wines called PX, which stands for the type of grape used to make them, Pedro Ximénez.

What are some of your favorite Spanish wines? Let us know in the comments section!

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About the author

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

An insatiable foodie, art collector, and international literature aficionado, I have traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Canada. For the past fifteen years, I have written about my adventures for various travel and literary publications. I am the owner of Lucidité Writing (www.luciditewriting.com) and Bouchard Design Co. (www.boucharddesign.co).

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