Excellent Spanish wines and tasty cuisine are among various reasons pilgrims are drawn to Camino de Santiago. Over the past 20 to 30 years Spain has emerged as one of the premier wine producers of Europe. Many local wines are celebrated just as much for their flavor as for the uniqueness of the local grape varietals from which they are derived. They have a reputation for great quality and production methods that meet today’s rigorous quality standards.
Red wines from Rioja are arguably the best known outside of Spain, and these are certainly worth enjoying while traveling across northern Spain. Yet many other regions are becoming increasingly known for their local wine production and local wineries in Spain are well worth a visit as part of the Camino de Santiago experience.
When traveling the Camino de Santiago, whether from Portugal, France or northeast Spain, you can expect to see much of the celebrated wine country of Galicia en route to your final destination in Santiago (also in Galicia). Following are just three wine regions of Galicia that are on or near various Camino routes where you can enjoy the full experience of Spanish wine today.
Just a short distance inland in southeast Galicia, pilgrims on Camino de Santiago can take advantage of their time in this area to enjoy wines of the Monterrei region. Monterrei is known primarily for its white wines, in particular the Godello and the Treixadura. The region also produces red wines from Mencía and Merenzao grapes, and these, like Monterrei white wines, are known for being full-bodied yet easy to drink. It is believed that the Romans brought wine making to this region and its local wines were well-known in the Middle Ages.
North of the border with Portugal, in the Rías Baixas wine region, the province of Pontevedra along the Camino Portugues is known primarily for wine produced from the (white) Albariño grape. Although vintners in the region can grow several other white and red varieties, the other whites grown in Rías Baixas are commonly blended with the Albariño. Local growers are especially proud of their Albariño wines, and with this one grape, they produce an impressive array of wines. Most have a fruity bouquet, while some are drier and crisper. If a full-bodied yet easy-to-drink white wine with moderate alcohol content is what you prefer, then any of the dozens of Rías Baixas bottlers will be more than happy to oblige.
If your Camino brings you westward, then you may have the opportunity to make a slight detour to the region of Valdeorras, also known as the “gateway to Galicia.” In this region, it’s all about the native Godello grape, which has a centuries-long history of producing excellent white wines. After a phylloxera blight wiped out nearly every trace of it in the 19th century, dedicated growers succeeded at reintroducing the Godello grape in the 1970s. This success has led to a revival of white wine production in Valdeorras, and Godello wines predominate in this region once again. Blended white wines are popular here as they are elsewhere in Spain, and the Godello is occasionally blended with the Palomino grape to make a crisp yet refreshing white blend.
No matter which route you choose for your Camino de Santiago experience, you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to enjoy Spanish wines right where they are produced and experience the rich history of wine making in the regions along the Camino. For more information about custom tours of the Camino de Santiago and its neighboring wine regions, contact us.