In partnership with ARAEX GrandsWhether you’re a lifelong devotee of Spanish wine or still on the road to discovery, these are unmissable destinations for travellers and oenophiles alike. From luscious green Galicia to the sun-drenched coast of Cava country, Decanter’s experts share their must-see sights of Spain.
In partnership with ARAEX Grands
Top five Spanish wine regions to visit
Pay a visit to the home of Spanish sparkling, and immerse yourself in Cava while taking in the mountain scenery and sun-drenched beaches. We’re talking about Penedés, an area of Catalonia in north east Spain — its capital Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is less than an hour by train from Barcelona.
Start off with some of the more dynamic winery tours…
Penedés’ villages also have plenty of fun-filled wine traditions, like the Fiesta de la Filoxera in September — when locals dress up as the vine-destroying Phylloxera parasite bug and dance through the streets with firecrackers.
Nearest airport: Barcelona
You’ve probably drunk plenty of this region’s delicious wines, but perhaps not considered it for a holiday…Until now. With 60,000 hectares of vines spread over three provinces, Rioja might be vast — but if you know where to go it can make an unforgettable getaway.
For easy winery hopping head to Haro Train Station Wine Quarter, where you’ll find the highest concentration of century-old wineries on the planet – in September they run the Haro Wine Festival…
Or if you want to get involved with people throwing over 100,000 litres of red wine at one another, arrive June 29 for the Batalla del Vino, or ‘wine battle’.
Nearest airport: Bilbao
Although the revival of Priorat wines can be dated around the 1980s, its winemaking traditions go back as far as the middle ages when Carthusian monks planted vines. They found the rugged beauty of the area so profound they called it Scala Dei, meaning ‘ladder to God’.
Perched up high in south-west Catalonia, Priorat has remained largely unspoilt. Its soaring mountains are still tracked by roads made more for hooves than wheels (4×4 required), and it’s stone-built towns maintain a quiet traditional feel — but with some fantastic restaurants thrown in.
Wander through the Gratallops village for a cluster of restaurants and bars to explore.
Nearest airport: Barcelona
Once you’ve got over the Galician pronunciation you can plunge headlong into this land of aromatic Albariño and fresh seafood — Rías Baixas (ree-ahse by-shas) is undoubtedly one of Spain’s top food and wine destinations (pictured top).
This is Green Spain at it’s best, with verdant river-riddled countryside and a coastline dotted with fishing villages. You can base yourself in the famous medieval pilgrimage destination, Santiago de Compostela. Meander through the streets of the Old Town, and begin with a glass of local wine in Hostal dos Reis Católicos — once a 15th-century hospital, now an elegant five-star hotel just across the square from the cathedral.
There are boat trips which can take you along the towns and coastal vineyards of Rías Baixas. Many include a stop at A Lanzada beach and La Toja island, with a mussel and wine tasting thrown in too.
Nearest airport: Santiago di Compostela
Finally, Jerez, the ancient heartland of Andalucía and fountainhead of Sherry wines. Forget any preconceptions you may have about all Sherry being sickly sweet or for nonagenarians — it’s multiplicity is staggering and it’s prized in the hippest hottest tabancos.
You won’t have to work hard to get a taste, the city is packed with bodegas and every pavement has its bars, with tables made from blackened Sherry butts.
You can also wander about the small, flat town centre on foot, confident in the knowledge you’re never far from a cool glass of fino.
In the early morning or evening, climb to the top of the Moorish fortress Alcázar, the view of Jerez vineyards stretching to the horizon is well worth the effort.
Nearest airport: Jerez