Galician wines and their designations of origin

Galicia is known worldwide for the beauty of its landscapes and its rich gastronomy, but it also stands out for the variety and delicacy of its wines. If you are a wine lover you will certainly enjoy some of the best wines in the country during our tours.

The taste of Galician wines is influenced by the Atlantic climate of the region. Towards the south, in the provinces of Orense and Pontevedra, we find the largest extension of vineyards, although we also find numerous plantations in the east of the province of Lugo.

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Galician vines have a secular origin. Throughout history the wine industry had different fortunes. In the 19th century, mass migrations caused many vineyards to be abandoned. But with Spain’s entry into the European Union, funds began to arrive and the situation improved considerably.

Experts distinguish five denominations of origin in Galician wines: Monterrei, Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro and Valdeorras.

We will tell you a little about each of them:

Monterrei

Its appellation of origin is located in the southern limit of Galicia on the border with Portugal.

It was the Romans who founded the first villages in the region and introduced the cultivation of wine in the area.

During the Middle Ages the expansion of the religious orders brought with it the expansion of vineyards. Wine, like other products of the countryside, was used as a form of tax by the monasteries for the tenants of their lands. The Monastery of Celanova and the Monastery of Montederramo were two of the religious centers most closely related to wine culture.

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Its main white grape varieties are Treixadura and Godello and the red grape varieties are Mencía and Merenzao.

Rías Baixas

It covers three areas in the province of Pontevedra where 1,600 hectares of vineyards are cultivated: the Salnés Valley on the left bank of the Arousa estuary, the Tea County on the right bank of the Miño and Rosal, in the lower basin of the same river.

The predominantly Atlantic climate of these places gave rise to some of the most internationally renowned Spanish dry wines.

90% of the production corresponds to Albariño varieties (whose antiquity dates back to the 12th century and is catalogued as one of the best white wines in the world), but there are also plantations of eleven other varieties, both white grapes (Treixadura, Loureira, Caíño Blanco and Torrontés) and red grapes (Caíño Tinta, Mencía, Espadeiro and Sousón).

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Ribeira Sacra

It obtained its appellation of origin recently, in 1996. Its vineyards extend along the banks of the Miño and Sil rivers, an unforgettable landscape.

Especially its red wines are highly valued and have a long tradition. The main grape varieties are the stately Mencia, Albariño and Godello.

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Ribeiro

It is the oldest appellation of origin in Galicia (1932). It is located along the Miño river and its tributaries covering some 3000 hectares of vineyards with the municipality of Ribadavia as the central nucleus.

Few regions in Europe have the history and cultural accent that Ribeiro has. Since the 9th century its wines were present in the months of the kings and nobles of Europe. From the 14th century onwards it was exported to countries such as England, Flanders and Italy. According to historians, it was also the first wine to reach America on the ships of Christopher Columbus.

During the Spanish Civil War, the traditional production of Ribeiro wine declined, but at the end of the 20th century a period of recovery of the native varieties began, making it the Galician wine with the greatest projection in terms of quality.

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Among the autochthonous grape varieties, the white (Treixadura, Loureira and Torrontés) and red (Caíño and Brancellao) grapes stand out. Other non-native varieties are Palomino and Garnacha Tintorera, and, to a lesser extent, Godello, Macabeo, Albilla, Albariño, Ferrón, Souson, Mencía and Templanilla. These wines are generally aromatic, fruity and full-bodied.

Valdeorras

It dates back to 1977. It covers the Sil river basin from the town of O Barco to A Rúa. There is a special microclimate in this area, between Mediterranean and oceanic, which contributes to the ripening of the vineyards.

The Godello variety is the most widespread in this appellation of origin, although it also has other red varieties such as Mencía and Merenzao or María Ordoña.

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We encourage you to get to know the extraordinary wine-growing richness of Galicia, its wineries, its gastronomy and its beautiful landscapes!

Contact us and find out more about our tours.

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