When thinking of Spain, many things come to mind: flamboyant Flamenco dancers, courageous bullfighters, breathtaking architecture, sparkling beaches, and bustling cities. But what some forget to consider is Spain’s expertise in wine. Starting with the Phoenicians in the 10th century and continuing with the Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans, wine was a valuable good that was traded between cities and countries, creating a modern day Spain with over 1.2 million hectares of vineyards ripe with unique blend of flavors. As a result, you can’t go wrong when wine tasting in Spain.
Full of History
What’s more, it’s not just one area of Spain that inspired the others to start producing wine – each area has vineyards dating back over 2,000 years. In the south, Marco de Jerez vineyard has been around for over 3,000 years and gains attention because of Cadiz’s perfect climate and gorgeous land. Spain’s western region is dominated by Utiel-Requena wines produced in Valencia, some of which come from vineyards over 2,700 years old. The Ribera del Duero region in eastern Spain has 2,500 years of wine experience and Navarra and La Rioja in the north have been producing wine for almost 20 centuries.
More than Just Wine
Many vineyards have enhanced the gastronomic experience by offering wine and food pairings or tours of the vineyards and nearby bodegas, where the wine and cava is stored. Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, one of Spain’s most prominent wine towns, is a cheap, 45-minute train ride from Barcelona, and many of the wineries there offer tours either on foot or by car of the surrounding vineyards. One of the most famous wineries, Codorniu, was established in 1551 and has since remained one of the oldest companies in both Spain and the world. Here you can take tours of their giant bodegas, the beautiful surrounding landscape, have special tastings like cava with chocolate, or even do an escape room! What’s more, the bodegas were constructed by modernist architect Josep Puig I Cadafalch, one of Gaudi’s students, and were declared historical monuments in 1976.
Sometimes, the bodegas themselves are the main attraction of the trip. The winery Bodegas del Marqués de Riscal, located in Elciego, Álava, completely contrasts the traditional lush green vineyard stereotype with its sloping, modern bodega roof and smooth finish. Designed by Frank Ghery, creator of the Guggenheim Museum, this bodega doubles as a luxury hotel and gives visitors a beautiful view of Elciego and its surroundings. Another modern bodega, Bodega Ysios, also located in Álava, was designed by Valencia architect Santiago Calatrava. What’s notable about this bodega is its impressive entrance and juxtaposition both in height and style of the surrounding vineyards. Bodega Ysios is recognizable from miles away.
If food and architecture aren’t enough, some bodegas also offer art tours. Bodegas Tradición, though unassuming from the outside, holds the most important private art collection in Andalusia, the Pinacoteca Rivero. This collection contains works from over 300 famous artists including Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez, Raimundo de Madrazo, and Lucas Villamil.
Tour the Vineyards Today!
If you love wine, food, art, or great history, Spain is the place to be. Many vineyards are day trips from Barcelona, others are located in Basque Country in the north, and all are fantastic. You will learn about how the wine is produced, the vineyard´s history, and of course, taste many different kinds of cava and wine. Wine tasting in Spain is more than just traveling to a vineyard. It allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the history of the region, to experience the inner workings of a different culture, and to connect with people from all over. Wine is for everyone (of age) and you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy a tour or a tasting! The bodegas in Spain offer visitors a chance not to be tourists, but rather travelers of new cultures and tastes. See you in the vineyards!