The Camino de Santiago: the wine route
In one of our previous articles, we told you that the reasons why pilgrims go to Compostela are very diverse and that one of them is to enjoy wine on the Camino de Santiago. Lovers of wine tourism (enological tourism) have found in the Camino de Santiago a paradise for their senses.
Planning for Wine tourism
Crossing vineyards, breathing in the sweet air of vines, visiting wineries, making wine tastings and discovering new grape vines are some of the wine-related activities you can do on the Camino de Santiago. We do not doubt that if you are reading this article from our blog, it is because you are one of those people who in their travels are always looking for a way to discover wine culture at the destination that you visit.
If you are thinking of doing the route of the Camino de Santiago from Sarria, give us more details about your travel plan and leave the organization of this unforgettable experience in our expert hands.
Why wine is important on the Camino de Santiago
It is important to note that since the 11th century, monks and pilgrims have been leaving in the wine regions of the Camino de Santiago various grape vines, brought from all sorts of places and corners. So we can say that wine and the Camino have always fed each other.
The above can be seen in the wide variety of vineyards that border the routes on the Camino de Santiago and the various grape varieties that can be found within the routes. It is also observed in the legends that surround the pilgrim route or in the traditional festivities that are celebrated in the many hamlets and villages that cross the itineraries of the Camino.
Pilgrimage routes and wine
Next, we will talk about the best wines you will find on the two main pilgrimage routes: the Camino Frances and Camino de Santiago Portugues. We conclude the article with Galician wines, because in the lands of the apostle, besides being “Terra Meiga”, are also the lands of wine.
Almost all pilgrims, even if they follow some other Camino de Santiago routes, will finish their route in Galicia, offering up a glass of Ribeiro or Albariño wine. A pilgrimage to Santiago is not only a journey for the body and mind but also for your palate.
The Camino Frances: the best wines in Spain
If there is a Camino de Santiago that stands out for its richness in wine, it is the Camino Frances. The great variety of wines on this pilgrim’s route is owed mainly to the climate of the territories that it crosses, which changes very much from one point to another, giving place to vineyards with very different characteristics.
The Camino Frances to Santiago passes through two of the most important and well-known wine routes in Spain: La Rioja and the Duero Basin of Castilla y León, whose wines receive the guarantee of origin (D.O) from Ribera del Duero. But this route also hides many more wines with a Spanish guarantee of origin.
Navarre, Aragon and Castilla y León will surprise you with original grape varieties. Here, we will talk about the best wines with D.O. (guarantee of origin) that you will find along this route so that you enjoy the best wine in the best conditions during your pilgrimage on the Camino Frances to Santiago.
Somontano wine: The beginning of the Camino Frances
The most usual thing to do is to begin the Camino Frances from St. Jean Pied de Port or Roncesvalles. However, some pilgrims take the Somport variant, to cross the Pyrenees, meeting the main Camino Frances at Puente de la Reina.
This route runs between the Aragon and Aspe valleys, allowing the pilgrims to savour the delicious Aragonese wine, well-known for its guarantee of Somontano origin.
Somontano means “at the foot of the mountain”, which speaks to us clearly of the privileged position of these vineyards, located between the River Ebro valley and the Pyrenees. In fact, to a large extent, the quality of Somontano wines is due to the geographical richness of its cultivation area. Hence this variety of Spanish wine has the protected denomination of origin (D.O.P.).
This wine-growing region is one of the oldest in Spain, according to available documentation. It is said that in the year 500 B.C. vineyards were already being cultivated in this region of Aragon.
Wines from Navarra: the beginning of the Camino Frances
All those who are encouraged to start the Camino Frances from its first stages, no matter what their starting point is, will end up crossing Navarre. This land was formerly known especially for its rosé wines, but nowadays it has a wide variety of wines with guarantee of origin.
The part of Camino de Santiago that crosses this region is included in one of the four wine routes of the community, which enters the sub-region of Tierra Estella. In fact, on the seventh stage of the French route, you will find one of the most famous wine fountains on the Camino de Santiago, the Bodegas Irache Fountain. A visit that has become a great tradition among pilgrims.
La Rioja: The Spanish wine route
Rioja Wine is one of the most important wines in Spain. If you are a true wine lover, you have probably heard about Rioja and the routes of this region.
The eighth stage of the Camino Frances leaves Los Arcos to leave Navarre and enter La Rioja, concluding its journey in Logroño. In this, and in the next three stages, you will have the opportunity to explore landscapes surrounded by the Rioja vineyards.
However, wines catalogued with this guarantee of origin are not cultivated exclusively in La Rioja, they are also present in the Basque Country and in some regions of Navarro and Castilla-León. So do not rush those opportunities to drink some Rioja wine, there will be plenty of time on the Camino Frances.
Crossing Castile with a Ribera del Duero wine
The wine route on the Camino de Santiago continues through Castilla y León, where Rioja wine will gradually give way to the D.O. Ribera del Duero wines. The vineyards of this denomination of origin extend along the banks of the Duero and then pass through Soria, Burgos, Segovia and Valladolid.
There are 16 stages on the Camino Frances that cross the autonomous community of Castilla y León. From Stage 12, which starts from Belorado until the 27th, which ends in O Cebreiro (Galicia). In any of these 16 stops you can taste the exquisite wines of Castilla.
Ribera del Duero wine is largely red. In 1982, it was granted its denomination of origin and since then the number of wineries and its prestige has not stopped growing. Today, this Spanish wine region has great international prestige.
Other wines from Castile
On your route through Castile, in addition to the famous wines of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero, you can discover other guarantees of origin, much less known, but equally exquisite. Here, we talk about them, so you can enjoy the best of your wine routes along the Camino Frances to Santiago.
Prieto Picudo: A unique grape
The wines made with these grapes are grouped under the D.O. of Tierra de León. This area of vineyards is located in the southeast of Castilla-León.
The wines made with this grape are recognized by their different flavour, marked by high acidity. It is not a common grape in Spain, and its bunch is very peculiar, presenting a compact appearance. Its grape is clearly distinguished because it ends in a point and has a more oval appearance than other varieties.
Wines from El Bierzo
To the west of the province of León are cultivated wines that have the D.O. of Bierzo. This wine is grown in smallholder vineyards and is elaborated in small wineries, so its distribution is not very wide. Therefore, take advantage of your route on the Camino de Santiago to enjoy a good wine tasting.
Wine routes in Portugal
The Camino Portuguese Central to Santiago is the second most visited pilgrimage route to Santiago. This route also has excellent wines on its route, as it also has a varied climate that offers a wide variety of white and red wines.
Its wines are characterized by the influence exerted by the Atlantic coast on its vineyards, along with the presence of two important rivers: The Duero and the Tagus (or Tajo, as it is called in Portuguese). Next, we talk about the wines that are cultivated in the regions that cross the Camino Portuguese.
Tajo wines: The beginning of the Camino Portuguese
The Vino do Tajo (Tagus wine) is the guarantee of origin of the wines grown in the central part of Portugal,in the Rebate region. Hence, in the past, this variety was known as Rebate wine.
A large part of the Rebate, formed by the vineyards of Cartago, Santarem, Almeria, Couche, Tamar and Chamisal, is crossed by the Camino Portuguese. So you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sample this variety of Portuguese wine during your pilgrimage to Santiago.
Barraza: Wines from Portugal
From stage 11, you will have the opportunity to taste the wines with the D.O. from Barraza. This wine-growing region is located in the centre west of Portugal. Its wines can be white, rosé or red as well as sparkling.
Oporto wine: Between the Central and Coastal Caminos
In Oporto, pilgrims have the option of continuing their journey to Compo stela following the Camino Central or deviating to the Camino Portuguese coastal route, doing 9 stages beside the sea. Both will give them the opportunity to drink a good port wine (Vino do Porto, in Portuguese).
This variety of wine has its own guarantee of origin and is cultivated in the wine-growing region known as the Alto Duero. Port wine is characterized by being a strong wine, with high a percentage of alcohol, the fruit of its fermentation process. You will find both white and red wines.
Vino Verde: The Portuguese Albireo
The Vinos Verdes (green wine) is a region located between the River Duero and the Mino, in the north-west of the country. As its name suggests, it is a young wine, which uses a green, little-ripened grape.
The taste of wines with the D.O. Vinho Verde is slightly acidic, but fruity, and often has a sparkling appearance. The most important white wine of Portugal is produced in this region; Alvariño wine (Alvarinho or Cainho Branco, in Portuguese), and is very similar to the Galician Albariño.
Galician wines: The Land of the Apostle
No matter which route you choose, you end up arriving in Galicia. An excellent place to finish the wine route on the Camino de Santiago. If you follow the Camino Frances, you will travel in Galicia through 7 stages, from O Cebreiro to the finishing line, the city of Compostela, passing by Palas de Rei and Arzúa, where you can taste Galician wines.
If you choose the Camino Portugues you will have 6 stages, arriving in Galicia through Tui. And if you choose any other itinerary of the Camino de Santiago you will also have the opportunity to enjoy Galician wine.
Ribeiro wine: Raise a glass to the end of the Camino de Santiago
The D.O. of Ribeiro wines means “Riverbank of the river” in Galician since it begins with the union of four different river valleys: Miño, Avia, Arnoia and Barbantiño. This fantastic landscape is complemented by its mountainous slopes and salty smell that emerges from the Atlantic Ocean. Rivers, mountains and seas give rise to a wine with fruity and floral aromas.
The guarantee of origin O Ribeiro is the oldest in the Galician community. This variety of wine is made with both regional grapes and foreign strains.
They are mostly white wines. The tonality of this wine varies between pale gold, almost transparent, to straw-coloured, almost golden.
More Galician wines
The O Ribeiro wine is not the only one with a guarantee of origin that you will find in Galician lands. This region is famous for its wines and for its gastronomy, it has several D.O. Some of them are:
● D.O. Rías Baixas. In this region is where the famous Galician Albariño is cultivated, considered the best white wine in the world. As we commented on the Portuguese route, this grape is also cultivated in the north of Portugal. However, it is originally from Galicia.
● D.O. Monterrei. It is the youngest and smallest guarantee of origin in Galicia. Its wine is produced in the province of Orense, from an arid zone in the southeast. Its white wines stand out because of their powerful aroma and the reds for their cherry colour.
● Ribeira Sacra wines. This D.O. stands out for its ruby-coloured red wines, with a surprising flavour. These vineyards are the inheritance left by the clerics who for centuries occupied the steep slopes of the Miño and the Sil river valleys.
Valdeorras wines. These wines are cultivated on the border between Orense and León. In this wine-growing region, which dates back to Roman times, the caves continue to be used to preserve the temperature of the wine. The white wines made with the Godello grape are outstanding.
Would you like to try a pairing?
You can see that the wine with its guarantee of origin is not lacking on the Camino de Santiago. But not only wine, the pilgrim route is also known for being a rich gastronomic route. What good wine lover doesn’t want to try a pairing?
If you want to know more about gastronomy on the Camino de Santiago, you can consult our guide to know what to eat on the Camino de Santiago. You can also see the article we published about the best routes to eat Galician tapas.
For today we say goodbye, not without first inviting you to share this article with your friends on Facebook and not without first reminding you that if you want to pilgrimage to Santiago, enjoying its wide range of wines, you can contact our team.
Our organized tours on the Camino de Santiago, have rural accommodation that will allow you to enjoy enotourism. We assure you that when you finish the Camino de Santiago, you will have enjoyed the best wines from Spain and/or Portugal.