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Spanish Wines: By Region

When it comes to choosing a great Spanish wine option, the region in which it is grown will play a major role in the overall taste and profile of the wine itself. There are several different regions in which Spanish wine varieties are grown and they all infuse their own unique attributes into the various types of wines that are produced from these locations across Spain.

Depending on your taste preference and ideal wine profile, there are several different types of Spanish wine that you can choose from. In this section, we’re going to cover all of the various Spanish wine varieties available on the market which come with a unique and distinctive taste that you can enjoy anytime.

Spain is a very diverse country so it helps to get a lay of the land. This map of the wine regions of Spain helps to put into context the various kinds of wines that grow throughout the country. Somehow, Spain seems to fly under the radar compared to its next-door neighbor, France.

Spain is actually the third largest wine producer in the world and has the most land dedicated to vineyards–over a million acres. Spanish wines range from great values to highly prestigious wines, such as Alvaro Palacios’ L’Ermita and Vega Sicilia’s Unico.

Mediterranean Coast

The coast is a very diverse macro-region that contains the sub-regions of Valencia, Catalonia, and Murcia. Catalonia is known for Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and a highly acclaimed red wine sub-zone, Priorat. Valencia and Murcia are warmer growing regions that produce a bulk of value wines from deep red Monastrell to aromatic white Malvasia and the wide diver flavor profiles.

Green” Northwest Spain

Galicia, very unlike the rest of Spain, is where lush green valleys are plentiful and the common cuisine includes lots of fresh fish. Albariño is the champion grape of the sub-region called Rias Baixas (REE-us BYE-shus), which skirts the coast. The area specializes in zesty white wines and a few aromatic red wines made with Mencía (men-THI-yah).

Duero River Valley

The Duero River is the same river as the Douro in Portugal. This region is notable for the minerally white wine, Verdejo, of Rueda, and the bold red wines of Toro, Ribera del Duero, and Leon. The wine grape of this region is Tempranillo and in Toro, it’s called Tinta de Toro, where it is considered to be a slight mutation of the Tempranillo grape. Ribera del Duero is home to one of the most famous wineries in Spain: Vega Sicilia.

Ebro River Valley

The subregions of La Rioja and Navarra are found in the Ebro River Valley. Here, Tempranillo is king and long-standing bodegas such as Lopez de Heredia and Marques de Murrieta make age-worthy wines. Navarra is known mostly for Rosado (rosé) wine made with the grape Garnacha (aka Grenache). The region also produces oak-aged white wines of Viura (Macabeo). In Basque country, zesty white wines called Txakoli (“CHAK-o-li” ) are common.


Andalucía is a very hot and dry region famous for Sherry. Stark white albariza soil makes Palomino Vineyards in Cádiz look like a moonscape. The even hotter, Montilla-Moriles produces fortified dessert wines that are called “PX“. An aged PX, such as those from Bodegas Toro Abala, have similar nutty-date flavors like Tawny Port.

Central Plateau

The central plateau or Meseta Central is the inner plateau of Spain which is home to the capital city, Madrid. The area has an average elevation of 2,300-2,600 feet and is dry and sunny. Because of its climate characteristics, vines are spaced very far apart and close to the ground. Some of the best value red wines of Spain can be found here made of Garnacha, Tempranillo, and even the rare, Petit Verdot.

The Canary Islands & All Other Islands

The Islands of Spain offer a wide range of wines from Listen Negro-based reds to dessert wines made with Moscatel. The volcanic soils of the Canary Islands add a gritty taste of rustic minerality. Currently, there are very few exporters of the limited wines of the Islands of Spain although you can find a few from places like Tenerife. Perhaps you might as well just make a point to visit.

La Rioja (Rioja)

Without a doubt, Rioja is Spain’s most famous wine-growing region. People have been growing wine grapes there since the 2nd century BC. The wines are based on the Tempranillo grape variety but are usually blended with Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo (along with a few others). Rioja is divided into three distinct growing regions: Rioja Alta is the coolest of the three and makes the finest wines, Rioja Alavesa is just southeast of Alta and makes wines of high tannin and structure, and Rioja Baja, the warmest of the three, which makes simple, everyday drinking wines.

Find the Best Rioja Wines here!

Castilla y Leon (Ribera del Duero DO)

This is one of the most famous and most respected regions in Spain. It is home to Spain’s most famous winery Vega Sicilia and its wines are based on Spain’s most famous grape, Tempranillo (at least 75% of the wine must be comprised of Tempranillo).

Catalonia (Priorat)

Priorat has seen a great resurgence in production over the last decade. For a long time, many of these extremely steep slopes had been abandoned because they were too difficult, dangerous, and expensive to maintain and work. They are home to some of the oldest vines in Europe though.

The black schist and quartz soil (known locally as llicorella) are resistant to the vine disease phylloxera, so these vines were spared when the pest ravaged the vineyards of Europe. Made from mainly Garnacha and Cariñena with the possible additions of Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, and others. Look for these wines to be among the best Grenache-based wines in the world (with costs to match).

Castilla-La Mancha (Toro DO)

This region has seen rapid growth as of late. After becoming a DO in 1987, this region had four wineries established here. After leaks revealed that the famed estate of Vega Sicilia had been quietly purchasing land in Toro under an assumed name starting in 1997, this region exploded in growth! Now there are around 40 wineries making wine here. The Tempranillo, Malvasia, and Garnacha grapes tend to be dominant in the region.

Castilla y Leon (Rueda DO)

This tiny little DO between Ribera del Duero and Portugal is a region where white wine flourishes. It used to be known mainly for fortified wines, but now it is most famous for its light, dry wines made from Verdejo. You will often see a little Sauvignon Blanc blended in as well.

Galicia (Valdeorras DO)

This DO rivals Rías Baixas as the best white wine in the northwest of Spain. Made predominantly from Godello, the wines are fresh, light, clean, crisp, and very refreshing. The influence from the Atlantic Ocean can almost lend a saline-like quality to the wines.

Cava (Pais Vasco/ Catalonia / Aragon / Valencia / Extremadura / Navarra/ La Roja )

Cava is one of the oldest sparkling wine appellations in Europe. It is always made by the Traditional Method or Champagne Method, which stipulates that the second fermentation (creation the carbonation), always takes place in the bottle. Cava is not actually one region but a patchwork of regions with defined borders throughout the country that are approved to make it.

The allowable white grapes are mainly Xarel-lo, Macabeo (aka Viura), and Parraleda, though Chardonnay and Malvasia may also be used. The allowable red grapes are Pinot Noir, Garnacha, Monastrell, and Trepat. Trepat may only be used in the production of Rosé.

Galicia (Rias Baixas DO)

Most known for its whites made from the Albariño grape. This DO sit right on the border to Portugal along the Atlantic coast. Its wines are lively, spicy, and highly acidic with tropical fruit flavors.


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 tours to wineries in Madrid. Madrid is also close to some astonishing Cities like Toledo, Segovia, El Escorial, Avila, 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. We offer a Toledo Tour with a strong local gastronomic flavor. You can find more information about Toledo on the City´s official tourism site. Our Segovia tour has been designed following a similar logic. You can also find more information about Segovia on its official tourism site.


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 the 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.


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

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 perfect for a relaxing holiday break.

These are the primary regions in which many popular Spanish wine varieties are grown and cultivated. Spain has over 60 different regions in which wine grapes are grown and fermented in order to create the delicious tasting products that we all know and consume.

Regardless of what region your desired wine is grown in, they all have one thing in common, it takes time to create wine. The next section is going to give you some detailed information about how the aging process involved with various types of wine products so that you can make the right decision.

Aging Spanish Wine: Requirements for different varieties

Certain terms on labels of Spanish wine carry legal definitions as to how old they are before being released and how they were aged. They can be clues to the quality of the wine in the bottle as well. Here are some of the more common ones you will encounter.


  • White & Rosado (Rosé): Wine must be 1 year old and spent at least 6 months in wood.
  • Red: Wine must be 1 year old and spent at least 6 months in wood. In Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Navarra it must be at least 2 years old and spent a minimum of 1 year in wood.


  • White & Rosado (Rosé): Wine must be 2 years old and spent at least 6 months in wood.
  • Red: Wine must be 3 years old and spent at least 1 year in wood.
  • Cava: Wine must spend a minimum of 15 months on the lees.

Gran Reserva

  • White & Rosado (Rosé): Wine must be 4 years old and spent at least 6 months in wood.
  • Red: Wine must be 5 years old and spent at least 18 months in wood. In Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Navarra, it must be5 years old with a minimum of 2 years in wood and a minimum of 3 years in bottle.
  • Cava: Wines must spend a minimum of 30 months on the lees.

This is great information to know for those who are serious wine enthusiasts and want a deeper look into exactly how long it takes to create the perfect bottle of wine that they enjoy. Another very critical element that plays a huge role in how well any Spanish wine will come out is the type of grapes used during the fermentation process. There are several types of grapes used in the creation of Spanish wine varieties and the following section is going to list them in detail.