It is not possible to understand wine in a country without basic knowledge of that country’s geography and regional structure. In this section, we will introduce the Spanish wine regions and provide an overall perspective of the different wine regions of Spain. You will be able to learn about each specific region in depth by navigating into their specific sections.
Spain is a country with more than 500,000 square kilometers (some 20% bigger than California Estate) and with over 45 million inhabitants. Wine has been cultivated in Spain since at least 1,100 BC when Phoenicians established in the area of Cadiz. This area of Spain is closed to the sea and offered a perfect shipping base for the commerce-minded Phoenicians. Inland, this region is fertile, easy to harvest and hot. This was a perfect location for the development of wine and it meant the origin of the sherry triangle in the area o Jerez de la Frontera in the region of Cadiz.
Spain has the biggest vineyard surface in the world. Contrary to the stereotype, Spain has an extremely varied climate and you will find lots of smaller ´micro-climates´across the country, each perfect for growing different kinds of grapes. This means that Spain has a huge variety of distinct and different beautiful vineyard landscapes to explore.
Since culture, geography and climate are three very important elements that shape wine regions, we would like to use them in order to provide an understanding of Spain´s wine regions. Wine expert and wine writer John Radford used to divide Spain in 7 main regions using the 3 criteria shown above. We believe his segmentation provides a good understanding of Spain´s wine regions realities. This criteria is however different from the actual certified wine regions that get a stamp from the Spanish wine authorities: the DOs or denomination of origin system. This system is similar to the AOC system in use in France
Each wine region in Spain has something different to offer: winery architecture and design, vineyard patterns, the colors and scents of the different soils and terroirs, the local food produce to accompany the wine, and of course, the wine itself.
Here you will find a guide on different wine regions and wine routes in Spain for your interest in travelling and Spanish wine. You can build your own Wine Tour in Spain itinerary.
Spain wine regions list
This area of Spain covers the north coast of Spain, from Galicia in the northwest and its border with Portugal in river Sil, all the way to France through the coastal areas of Galicia, Asturias Cantabria, and the Spanish Basque country in the border with France (the French Basque country which starts in Hendaye). These lands all share an Atlantic climate. It rains much more than in the rest of Spain and there is an agricultural tradition based on small properties. Fish and seafood is very important in local economies. You can find here additional information on north Spain climate and also a Northern Spain itinerary in this other section. This region produces the best white wines in Spain, a perfect match for the seafood and fish that arrives to its harbours daily.
Far from the coast and protected from the Atlantic winds by the Sierra de Cantabria and the Pyrenees mountain ranges, this part of Spain provides favorable conditions for red wine grapes. Spain´s most famous iconic region is included here: Rioja, and so is Navarre and also Aragon (a less-known region that has consolidated a strong reputation for quality wines in recent times, first with wines from Somontano DO, then with fantastic Garnacha wines from Campo de Borja, Calatayud and Cariñena Dos.
La Rioja and Navarre played a fundamental role in the XIX century when the phylloxera plague destroyed the French vineyard. The dry, continental climate, local vines, and hard work of local winemakers that partnered with French negociants and wineries, played a fundamental role in the success story of this region. Prosperity arrived thanks to wine and Europe could drink red wine thanks to a large degree to these lands. More difficult times arrived later, but the seeds planted were strong and vigorous.
In Spain, Rioja is synonymous of wine. The denomination of origin spreads along 54.000 hectares around three different Communities (La Rioja, Basque Country, and Navarre).
The wines of Rioja are the most famous of Spain and its long tradition supports their fame. Rioja wine tours are amongst the most popular in the country, and there are good reasons for this: it is not only about its wines, but the landscapes, excellent food, and good connections with top cities like Bilbao or San Sebastian.
Navarre is one of the most famous Denominaciones de Origen in Spain. There are many wineries that produce wine belonging to the Navarra DO, but also wines that are part of the Rioja DO.
Castilla Leon, an administrative region or autonomous region in Spain has played a fundamental role in Spanish history. Castles, gothic cathedrals, and impressive monasteries set the architectural landscape of this part of Spain, where continental weather and high altitude shape wines. Old Castile produced wines to serve the court and its monasteries. Vega Sicilia, Spain’s red wine brand already established in Valladolid by 1846. However, the international development of this part of Spain has only happened at the end of the XX century, when Ribera del Duero became internationally acclaimed. But this wide wine region in central Spain is much more than Ribera del Duero. Rueda, Cigales, Toro, and Bierzo are full of interesting vineyards and wineries that promise an exciting future in winemaking.
Castilla y Leon means Romanesque architecture, austerity, and also wine. Castilla y Leon offers many possibilities to the tourist wishing to enjoy a cultural and gastronomic break. Ribera del Duero is one of Spain´s top wine-producing regions. It specializes in red wines and its geography is shaped by the Duero River. Great wines also go along with great wine tours in Ribera del Duero.
Rueda & Toro wine region
Castilla y Leon means Romanesque architecture, austerity and also wine. Castilla y Leon offers many possibilities to the tourist wishing to enjoy a cultural and gastronomic break.
Catalonia is located in the Northeast of Spain and it borders France in the North. Catalonia consists of 4 provinces: Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida, and Girona, and altogether gathers 11 Dos. To this already complex reality, we add the Balearic islands, a top tourist destination, paradise-like Spanish archipelago in the Mediterranean sea with very interesting local grapes. All in all this wine region is about Mediterranean climate and culture. Local climate and soils favor cava and white wines, but there is room for elegant red wines and also powerful Crianzas and Reservas, mainly from Priorat, the inland exciting wine region in Tarragona where vineyards are planted in terraces.
Barcelona wine region
Barcelona is famous for the production of cava wine (Spain´s equivalent to Champagne) but there are also many wineries that produce high still wines.
The best way to enjoy wine country in Barcelona is to enjoy one of the tours that operate daily from Barcelona City Center. Some of these tours offer the possibility to combine a visit to the Monastery of Montserrat, but most Barcelona wine tours mainly focus on wine and cava, with normally 2 or 3 wineries being visited.
Reds were not traditionally what Catalonia did best. But all that was history and today Priorat is amongst the most reputed red wine regions not just in Spain, but in the world. Few places provide such deep concentration and mineral qualities for their wines as the terraces located in the Priorat wine region.
This region develops from Castellon, south of Tarragona in Catalonia al the way to the south in Murcia. Warmer temperatures and Mediterranean influence. This Mediterranean nature has not only shaped the style of wines, but also an attitude towards trade. Wines from Valencia and Murcia offer great value for money and have for decades exported much of what they produce. Bobal and Monastrell are local red grapes totally adapted to the hot climate and which have proved their real potential with the introduction of modern vinification techniques.
Known to many European thanks to its excellent weather and the beaches, the inland in Murcia is home to one of the most popular wine regions in Spain: Jumilla. Not far, Yecla offers a different terroir and equally interesting wines.
La Comunidad Valenciana, north of Murcia, has for long concentrated its efforts in wine exports. Many interesting and unique wines like Foncillon are produced in Valencia and Aicante, which has in recent years initiated a process to rediscover old vines and attract small and family-owned wineries. Alicante´s wine region is split into 2 zones, one very close to the coast (La Marina) and one inland. Find out more about Alicante wine tours and how to enjoy them either just visiting a winery or with a tour that incldues gtransportation.
Isolated for centuries when compared to coastal Spain, this central part of Spain is set at a semi-arid plain, la Meseta. Locals claim there are almost only 2 seasons here, winter and summer. This large wine region covers La Mancha, which is the world´s largest vineyard, Madrid and Extremadura, land of Conquistadores like Pizarro and which neighbors Portugal. This high plain offers fantastic value for money and is giant in wine terms. But volume is not the only thing here. Smaller wineries have found a way to differentiate themselves and offer exciting top-quality wines.
Madrid is not very well-known as a wine-producing region. Despite this, excellent wines are produced locally. Old small wineries have found in old Grenache vines new inspiration, and new modern producers have brought innovation to this city.
In Madrid itself, a large number of tapas bars and restaurants offer wine from all over Spain and some of the best wine lists in the country are to be found here. We recommend when you plan your short-break that you consider joining one of our tour to wineries in Madrid.
South of Madrid we discover La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote. There are some astonishing Cities like Toledo, or Cuenca. We find a very interesting 1 day activity to combine a visit to one of these Unesco heritage sites with a wine tour.
Cadiz is probably the area of Spain in which wine production was initiated. This huge region in Southern Spain consists of 8 provinces which, as a whole, provide the most iconic images of Spain: Flamenco, olive oil fields, Andalusian horses, white villages, and la Alhambra palace, bullfighting, and sherry wines. There is however much more than sherry wines in Andalusia. The Canary Islands, an archipelago of volcanic origin not far from the western coasts of Africa, also specialized in fortified wines. The volcanic soils and strong winds have forged very specific terroirs to the wines from the islands. The vineyard was removed to a large extent for the advantage of banana plantations. But small wine producers have found their way to differentiate and provide some of the most interesting and differential wines in Spain. Find more about the amazing wines and wine tours in Tenerife in this section.
There are two different ways of making wine in Malaga. The Denomination of origin Malaga specializes in sweet wines from the Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel grape varieties. It covers an area close to the sea.
Jerez de la Frontera wine region
Jerez de la Frontera and Marco de Jerez has a collection of wineries that are true monuments to wine. The word ´Jerez´ means ´sherry´ in Spanish, meaning that the name of this wine region reflects its best produce. Jerez makes wines that are unique to the world: vino fino, amontillado, oloroso. You will not find other wines that have been elaborated by the same art, or taste the same as sherry. One of the best ways to learn about these wonderful wines is to join a guided Sherry wine tour.
The Puerto de Santamaría, San Lucar and Jerez´s interesting history: wine tourism is perfect for a relaxing holiday break.
The Alicante wine region is located next to eh Mediterranean sea and it is one of the historical regions in Spain with wines well-known for centuries. Alicante is one of the wine regions in Spain that has changed more in the last decades. New wineries produce exciting wines, fondillon wine has emerged from its shadows and top value for money wines have only improvec … Read More
Lanzarote offers one of the most impressive vineyards in the world. KIts vulcanic soils produce some amazing Malvasias. The area of La Geria is exceptionally beautiful and a wine tour in Lanzarote is a must for wine lovers who plan their holidays here … Read More
Ribera del Duero wine region guide to prepare your wine travel to Ribera del Duero, Spain. Winery hotels, winery visits, tours and ideas in Ribera del Duero. … Read More
Jerez wine region. Information on itineraries, wine routes, ideas and tips to organise a wine tour in Jerez de la Frontera, San Lucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María visiting sherry wine producers … Read More
Madrid wine region. sub-regions and itineraries to enjoy wines from Madrid. Winery visits and wine tours. A close look at the sub-regions in the DOC wines from Madrid and also the type of wines and grapes used in wine production near Madrid … Read More