For #winelovers. Explore the main Denominations of Origin of Galician wine: Monterrei, Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras…
Our wine tourism experience begins in León, in Puebla de Sanabria, a starting point to discover one of the five Galician designations of origin: Valdeorras, located in the eastern area of the province of Ourense and to the boundaries with León, which was recognised in 1945 . It is a traditional wine area of Roman origin where the variety of white Godello dominates, and the Mencia, among red grapes. Many of its wineries are still making wine underground, in caves excavated to preserve the temperature. Puebla de Sanabria is undoubtably beautiful thanks to its natural environment, the star of which is the Sanabria Lake Natural Park. This is the largest natural lake on the Iberian Peninsula. Out of its artistic monuments, those that stand out include the impressive 15th century castle built by Conde de Benavente, the Roman 12th century Santa María del Azogue church (which was renovated in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries), the Barroque 17th century San Cayetano chapel and the Elizabethan 16th century town hall, all of which have helped the city be named as a Historical-Artistic Site. Many of its wineries are still making wine underground, in caves excavated to preserve the temperature. It was in 1945 when the Valdeorras Denomination of Origin was recognised. If you want to know first-hand the process of creating these wines, you can request a guided tour in up to a dozen wineries. More info on http://www.dovaldeorras.tv/
Without leaving these Ourense lands, we move to another area. The Monterrei Denomination of Origin extends over the slopes of the mountains and valleys irrigated by the River Támega and its tributaries, occupying an area close to 3,000 hectares. The expansion of the religious orders at the beginning of the Middle Ages brought with it an expansion of the vineyards that profusely spread around the monasteries. The grape varieties of the Monterrei area are very original. Near the Parador, guests can find the Gargalo Winery, the owner of which is the Galician designer Roberto Verino. There is a lot of historical heritage in the region, ranging from the megalithic, Castro and Roman cultures (as evidenced by the Ruta de la Plata) to more recent times. However, castles are the most characteristic reference. Another riches are the mineral-medicinal springs, which are found throughout the territory. The Monterrei Wine Route offers you the possibility of visiting up to 11 different wineries located throughout the territory. In them you will be able to get up close to the winemaking process by means of its real protagonists. More info on www.domonterrei.com
From Verín we head north to the Ribeira Sacra. In 1993 the Designation Viños da Terra was approved, but the definitive and progressive takeoff did not take place until 1996 with the final approval of the Designation of Origin. It is also close to the Valdeorras Denomination of Origin. The winemaking tradition dates back to Roman times. Today there are more than eighty wineries registered in this Denomination of Origin, which is characterised by using white varieties, such as godello, doña blanca, palomino fina, moscatel de bafo miudo, and red varieties, such as mencía, merenzao, negreda, grao negro, garnacha tintorera, arbarello, tempranillo and tintilla. www.ribeirasacra.org, The capital city is Monforte de Lemos, one of the best Galician regions to satisfy your appetite, which has a wide variety of bars and restaurants for tapas, paired, as it could not be otherwise, with wines of "heroic viticulture". Do not miss the opportunity to taste an amazing “à feira” octopus. A visit to the Viño da Ribeira Sacra Interpretation Centre is recommended.
In the heart of the Ribeira Sacra, the Parador de Santo Estevo awaits us: a spectacular Benedictine monastery to break away and relax, and delight with landscapes of great beauty, such as the canyons of Sil and the River Miño. You will be amazed by its vineyards arranged in almost vertical terraces that seem to defy gravity. There are several options to explore the gorges: from the depths of the canyon, by sailing a catamaran over the waters; from a bird's eye view, by flying in a hot air balloon; or enjoying the panoramic views offered by the Miradores route. In addition to visiting some wineries and enjoying wine tastings and explanatory talks, the Romanesque route, which will take you to churches and monasteries of the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries surrounded by magical oak and chestnut forests, is highly recommended.
Let’s move to the area that produces the most prestigious Galician wine, popularly known as Albariño, from the hegemonic white variety. The Rías Baixas Denomination of Origin was recognised in 1988, and the vineyards cover an area of around 2,700 hectares and host 180 wineries. Where Galicia borders Portugal and the River Miño is the main character in the green landscape, visiting Tui is a must. The only cathedral in the province of Pontevedra can be found here, which you will find by walking through the charming old town, where summer nights on terraces and bars to have a drink are very special. The O Rosal subarea is located on the mouth of the River Miño, on its right bank. From A Guarda, in front of the sea, the Miño estuary can be seen. In the Santa Tecla mountain, with an exceptional panoramic viewpoint, the most important Roman fortified town in Galicia (5th century BC) is located. Throughout the mountain, petroglyphs and rock carvings can be found. The Archaeological Museum is located at the top. Next to O Rosal, an interesting set of 60 cascading water mills can be found. In this area, more than 50 Calvary sculptures (16th to 18th century) can be found. www.doriasbaixas.com
Days 6 and 7
Friday and Saturday.
This stage is the grand finale of this exciting journey. The Val Do Salnés subarea, with its centre in Cambados, is the one with the largest zones of the five subareas and has this Denomination of Origin. It is a geographical region that coincides with the starting of the valley of the River Umia. We are in a privileged region for wine lovers and travellers, with several places to visit. Cambados, declared a Site of Cultural Interest, houses a some of Galician mansions that make the town an open-air museum. It is the capital of Albariño wine and the Parador is an ideal accommodation to discover the Ría de Arousa and the Rías Baixas. You can visit the Wine Museum, located next to the emblematic ruins of Santa Mariña Dozo, and take routes through wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms. And assuming that at this point of the trip you have not yet yield to necessity of eating crustaceans, bivalves and cephalopods, it is time to have to a good seafood meal paired with one of the best whites in the world. Cheers!