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Wine regions in Spain: diversity of a wine nation

You may think the first region in Spain known to grow wine was Rioja, but no: winegrowing began in the Jerez and Málaga regions, in the 16th century. These wine regions acquired an excellent reputation, both within Spain and far beyond the country's borders. Today Spain's winegrowing regions are among the largest in the world.

History of viticulture in Spain

Spain's wine history began around 1100 BC, when the Phoenicians founded Cádiz and planted the first vines there. The warm climate produced wines that were strong and sweet, and they also travelled well. Wine-loving Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans sourced their wines in Spain, and Spanish wine became a popular commodity in the Mediterranean area. Later the Romans continued the cultivation of wine in Spain, refining it with special processing methods – such as maturing in clay amphorae that were stored in sunny places or near fireplaces to develop a floral or smoky taste.
Since the Koran prohibits the consumption of fermented alcoholic beverages, winegrowing areas in Spain lay largely fallow during the centuries when the country was under Moorish rule. But viticulture still survived in Spain, especially in Christian monasteries – which not only cultivated wine for religious rites, but also kept the local wine cellars well stocked. When the Christians defeated the Moors in Granada in 1492, the winegrowing regions in Spain quickly flourished again – and Spanish wines began to be exported. England imported sack (sherry) from Andalusia (Jerez and Málaga), tent from Alicante, and wines from the Canary Islands. This development led to the creation of more and more winegrowing regions in Spain, and in the course of the following centuries – after many ups and downs – the country became one of the world's most dynamic wine-producing nations.

Geography: what characterizes the Spanish wine regions?

Because of Spain's diverse geography there are winegrowing regions in all parts of the country. More than 250 grape varieties are pressed to produce wines with a wide variety of styles and characters. The best-known Spanish winegrowing region is probably Rioja, which has symbolized winegrowing in Spain like no other since increasing numbers of French winegrowers settled there at the end of the 19th century to protect their wine from phylloxera. Located in the north-east, Rioja has a mild climate and calcareous soils that make it ideal for viticulture. The region's speciality is the dark red Tempranillo, aged in oak barrels for distinctive notes of spices and fruit.
The region with the second-largest cultivated area in Spain is Andalusia. Although the region's high summer temperatures make conditions unfavourable for vines, these benefit from Andalusia's proximity to the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The sandy and limestone soils store the wetness of the winter months well, enabling exclusive wines to be cultivated. This winegrowing region's flagship is sherry, which has enjoyed great popularity since the 16th century.Even those of Spain's winegrowing regions that have relatively limited areas under vines produce popular quality wines. Navarre, for example, which lies close to the French border, is one of Spain's most versatile wine regions – with climatic conditions that make the most diverse types of wine possible. The Garnacha grape variety, one of the most common in Spain, is traditionally cultivated to produce a beautiful rosé wine. Want to know more about Spain's individual winegrowing regions? Look at the map and click on the wine regions that interest you, and you will be redirected to the corresponding page..

The best wines from Spain

The viticulture practised in Spain was long known for its robust, quaffable wines. After reforms and investments in modern pressing facilities, Spanish wines are now in no way inferior to the top wines of other nations. The style of Spain's winegrowing regions is characterized by fresh, clean white wines and juicy, full-bodied reds. With 1.2 million hectares under vines producing some 35 million hectolitres of wine per year, Spain has the largest vineyard area in the world.
The best wines come from the north, from areas such as Rioja, Navarre, Catalonia and Ribera del Duero. Most table wines are produced in La Mancha, where the white Airén grape dominates, while excellent aperitif wines such as sherry, Montilla and Malaga come from the south of the country. Because of Spain’s many wine regions, its wines are enormously diverse: there truly is something for all wine lovers.

Vineyard area and production volume

1.2 million hectares, some 35 million hectolitres per year

Wines from Spain

Winemakers & wineries in Spain