Viticulture in Spain

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The Spanish wine is a sector of great importance for the Spanish economy , because the country has the largest under vines in the world. Around 967,000  hectares of vineyards (as of 2017) are cultivated by around 150,000 winemakers in almost 5,000 bodegas (wineries) and bottling plants. In 2014, Spain became the world's largest exporter of wine for the first time, but the bulk of it consisted of cheap wines for further processing.

Vinos DO de España.png

Important grape varieties

Cultivation of Tempranillo in Penedès

Wines in the most varied of styles and qualities are made from more than 250 grape varieties . Although Spain is better known as a red wine country , 50% of the area is planted with white grape varieties. Spain is clearly the largest white wine producer in the world. According to a data collection from the year 2000, the 15 most common grape varieties are:

  • Airén (white) with 338,635 ha, tendency sharply falling
  • Tempranillo (red) with 112,950 hectares, with a strong upward trend
  • Bobal (red) with 92,630 ha
  • Grenache = Garnacha (red) with 86,800 ha, tendency strongly decreasing
  • Monastrell (red) with 65,100 ha
  • Pardillo or Pardina (white) with 51,572 ha
  • Macabeo or Viura (white) with 32,905 ha
  • Palomino or Listán blanco (white) with 29,845 ha
  • Mencía (red) with 11,330 ha
  • Pedro Ximénez (white) with 11,115 ha
  • Cayetana Blanca (white) with 10,743 hectares, with a strong upward trend
  • Chelva (white) with 10,711 ha
  • Parellada (white) with 10,415 ha
  • Mazuelo (red) with 9,470 ha
  • Xarel-lo (white) with 9,227 ha

2003 Wine Law

In 2003 the Spanish Parliament passed a new wine law. There are three main changes:

  • The responsibility for the quality regulations of the individual growing areas as well as the responsibility for checking compliance is divided between two institutions. So far, the Consejos Reguladores have done both .
  • With the Vinos de la Tierra , the country wines, there is now the possibility of identifying barrel-aged wines with graduated names comparable to quality wines.
  • In the future, wines from individual sites , the vinos de pago , can be defined as the highest quality level . This regulation paved the way for the internationally known top wines that have become known in Rioja , Ribera del Duero , Navarra or the Priorat over the past 10 years , but also as country wines under the names Superreservas, Vinos de Autor or Vinos de Alta Expresión . These mostly modern wines did not meet the formal requirements of the region in the past, as these are often formulated too rigidly. The new regulation will promote regional top wines in the future.

Spanish wine quality system

  • Vino de Mesa is the simplest level of table wine and can come from anywhere in Spain. The label must not show the region of origin, a vintage or an indication of the grape variety.
  • Vino de la Tierra (VdlT) corresponds to a country wine or a French Vin de pays. For the Vino de la Tierra, the grape variety and vintage may be specified. There are currently 42 VdlT regions.
  • Around half of the Spanish vineyards are allowed to carry the controlled designation of origin DO ( Denominación de origen ). There are currently 64 DO (C.) Areas. The areas of Rioja and Priorat are even allowed to bear the designation DOCa ( Denominación de origen calificada ).
  • Since the 2003 amendment to the law, 18 wineries have been recognized as vino de pago (similar to the Crus Classés in Bordeaux), making them the top in Spain's quality system. Well-known goods are for example:
    • Dominio de Valdepusa
    • Dehesa del Carrizal
    • El Vicario
    • Pago de Arínzano
    • Pago de Otazu
    • Prado de Irache
    • Casa del Blanco
    • Finca Élez
    • El Terrerazo
    • Los Balagueses
    • Pago Guijoso

There are the following quality levels within a growing area:

  • Cosecha : This label on the back is worn by wines that either have not matured in wooden barrels and / or bottles for the necessary time to be allowed to carry one of the higher names, or that have been graded by the producer.
  • Vino joven are usually the wines that are not aged in wood, but there is no legal stipulation. The Jovenes wear the aforementioned as a label on the back.
  • Semi Crianza or Crianza Corta is an unofficial name and denotes wines that have been in wooden barrels for a few months, but have not been stored long enough to be marketed as Crianza. You can often find the names Roble or Barrica on the label.
  • CVC (Conjunto de varias Cosechas): a blend of several years. Is hardly in use anymore.
  • Crianza : Wine with at least six months of barrel storage and 12 to 18 months of bottle storage with a total age of at least 24 months. Exceptions: in the areas of Navarra, Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Penedès, twelve months of barrel storage are required. The minimum age for white wines is one year, of which 6 months in bottle and barrel.
  • Reserva , red: Wine with at least one year in barrel and two years in bottle; white: Wine with at least 6 months in barrel and 1.5 years in bottle
  • Gran Reserva , red: Wine with at least 2 years in barrel and 3 years in bottle; white: Wine with at least 6 months of barrel storage and 3.5 years of bottle storage

The intention behind these quality levels is to only bring high-quality wines onto the market when they have reached a certain level of drinking maturity. Since Spain has a very large proportion of wines that have seen a barrel and are therefore Crianza, Reserva or Gran R., it is the first choice if you want to get very cheap barrel wines.

The Consejo Regulador defines the “Reglamento” for each DO area with the description of the permitted grape varieties, the permitted documents, decisions about new plantings, the regulation of the yield per hectare, the density of tillering, the pruning and the production methods, such as ripening technology, alcohol content , Residual sugar, dry extract values, etc. The Consejo Regulador of the respective region only approves the label after sensory testing. The central authority is called INDO ( Instituto Nacional de Denominaciones de Origen ).

Every year, the Guía Peñín , Spain's most famous and most important wine guide, gives an overview of the quality of Spanish wines .

History of viticulture in Spain

Since approx. 4000 BC Viticulture is practiced in Spain. Grape remains found even prove the existence of the wild grape at the end of the Tertiary . Around 1100 BC The Phoenicians founded the city of Cádiz on the south coast of Spain and increased their viticulture. After the Phoenicians came the Carthaginians and continued the winemaking tradition.

In the second and third centuries BC During the Punic Wars, the power relations on the Mediterranean were changed in favor of the Roman Empire. The subsequent political stability on the Iberian Peninsula encouraged trade with Rome . Finds of amphorae in the Italian capital show that a lot of Spanish wine was drunk there at that time. In particular, wines from Baetica (roughly equivalent to today's Andalusia) and Tarraconensis (Tarragona) enjoyed great popularity. As provisions for the Roman soldiers, the wine came to the Loire Valley, Brittany , Normandy and England.

Small label school

Here is a translation aid for the most important terms on labels for wines from Spain:

  • abocado: lovely
  • aguardiente: often used abbreviation for pomace brandy ( aguardiente de orujo )
  • añejo, añejado por ...: old, aged by ...
  • barrica: barrel, barrique
  • blanco: white
  • bodega: winery, see bodega
  • bodeguero: owner of a bodega
  • brut: very dry. This designation is only used for sparkling wine and corresponds to the French meaning.
  • cava: Catalan for sparkling wine , Spanish variant of sparkling wine
  • cepa: vine, grape variety
  • comarca: district
  • cosecha: vintage, also refers to the back label
  • criado por ...: expanded by ...
  • dulce: sweet
  • elaborado por ...: expanded by ...
  • embotellado por ...: bottled by ...
  • espumoso: sparkling wine
  • generoso: fortified aperitif or dessert wine
  • método tradicional: since August 31, 1994 replacement name for méthode champenoise
  • rosado: rosé (rosé wine)
  • SAT: privatized cooperative winery
  • seco: dry
  • semiseco: semi-dry
  • tinto: red, red wine
  • vendimia: grape harvest
  • viña: vineyard, vineyard
  • viñedo: vineyard, vineyard
  • vino: wine
  • vino corriente: everyday wine
  • vino de aguja: sparkling wine
  • vino de pasto: simple table wine
  • vino de prensa: pressing of the solid components from the fermentation process
  • vino gaseoso: sparkling wine, cheap sparkling wine made by adding carbonic acid

Growing regions

The part of the country (zona vinícola por comunidades autónomas, comparable with the federal states) in which this growing area is located follows the official name (possibly several names).

Denominación de Origen growing region

  1. DO Abona - Canary Islands
  2. DO Alella - Catalonia
  3. DO Alicante - Valencia
  4. DO Almansa - Castilla-La Mancha
  5. DO Arabako Txakolina - Basque Country
  6. DO Arlanza - Castilla-León
  7. DO Arribes - Castilla-León
  8. DO Bierzo - Castilla-León
  9. DO Binissalem Mallorca - Balearic Islands
  10. DO Bizkaiko Txakolina - Basque Country
  11. DO Bullas - Murcia
  12. DO Calatayud - Aragon
  13. DO Campo de Borja - Aragon
  14. DO Cariñena - Aragón
  15. DO Catalunya - Catalonia
  16. DO Cava - Catalonia + other regions
  17. DO Cigales - Castilla-León
  18. DO Conca de Barberà - Catalonia
  19. DO Condado de Huelva - Andalusia
  20. DO Costers de Segre - Catalonia
  21. DO Dehesa del Carrizal Vinos de Pago - Castilla-La Mancha
  22. DO Dominio de Valdepusa Vinos de Pago - Castilla-La Mancha
  23. DO El Hierro - Canary Islands
  24. DO Empordà - Catalonia
  25. DO Finca Elez Vinos de Pago - Castilla-La Mancha
  26. DO Getariako Txakolina - Basque Country
  27. DO Gran Canaria - Canary Islands
  28. DO Jerez - Andalusia
  29. DO Jumilla - Murcia
  30. DO La Gomera - Canary Islands
  31. DO Lanzarote - Canary Islands
  32. DO La Mancha - Castilla-La Mancha
  33. DO La Palma - Canary Islands
  34. DO Málaga - Andalusia
  35. DO Manchuela - Castilla-La Mancha
  36. DO Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda - Andalusia
  37. DO Méntrida - Castilla-La Mancha
  38. DO Mondéjar - Castilla-La Mancha
  39. DO Monte Lentiscal - Canary Islands
  40. DO Monterrei - Galicia
  41. DO Montilla-Moriles - Andalusia
  42. DO Montsant - Catalonia
  43. DO Martúe La Guardia Vinos de Pago - Castilla-La Mancha
  44. DO Navarre - Navarre
  45. DO Otazu Vinos de Pago - Navarre
  46. DO Pago Florentino Vinos de Pago - Castilla-La Mancha
  47. DO Pago Guijoso Vinos de Pago - Castilla-La Mancha
  48. DO Penedès - Catalonia
  49. DO Pla de Bages - Catalonia
  50. DO Pla i Llevant Mallorca - Balearic Islands
  51. DO Prado de Irache Vinos de Pago - Navarre
  52. DOCa. Priory - Catalonia
  53. DO Rías Baixas - Galicia
  54. DO Ribeira Sacra - Galicia
  55. DO Ribeiro - Galicia
  56. DO Ribera del Duero - Castilla-León
  57. DO Ribera del Guadania - Extremadura
  58. DO Ribera del Júcar - Castilla-La Mancha
  59. DOCa. Rioja - Rioja
  60. DO Rueda - Castilla-León
  61. DO Sierras de Málaga - Andalusia
  62. DO Somontano - Aragon
  63. DO Tacaronte-Acentejo - Canary Islands
  64. DO Tarragona - Catalonia
  65. DO Terra Alta - Catalonia
  66. DO Tierra de León - Castilla-León
  67. DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora - Castilla-León
  68. DO Toro - Castilla-León
  69. DO Úcles - Castilla-La Mancha
  70. DO Utiel-Requena - Valencia
  71. DO Valdeorras - Galicia
  72. DO Valdepeñas - Castilla-La Mancha
  73. DO Valencia - Valencia
  74. DO Valle de Güimar - Canary Islands
  75. DO Valle de La Orotava - Canary Islands
  76. DO Vinos de Madrid - Madrid
  77. DO Ycoden-Daute-Isora - Canary Islands
  78. DO Yecla - Murcia

Vinos de Calidad VCPRD

  • VC Lebrija - Andalusia
  • VC Valles de Benavente - Castilla-León

vV.C. Valtiendas - Castilla-León

Vinos de la Tierra

  • VT Bailén - Andalusia
  • VT Bajo Aragón - Aragon
  • VT Betanzos - Galicia
  • VT Cádiz - Andalusia
  • VT Campo de Cartagena - Murcia
  • VT Cangas - Asturias
  • VT Castilla - Castilla-La Mancha
  • VT Castilla y León - Castilla-León
  • VT Contraviesa-Alpujarra - Andalusia
  • VT Córdoba - Andalusia
  • VT Costa de Cantabria - Cantabria
  • VT Desierto de Almería - Andalusia
  • VT Eivissa - Balearic Islands
  • VT El Terrerazo - Valencia
  • VT Extremadura - Extremadura
  • VT Formentera - Balearic Islands
  • VT Gránada Sur-Oeste - Andalusia
  • VT Illa de Menorca - Balearic Islands
  • VT Illes Balears - Balearic Islands
  • VT Laujar-Alpujarra - Andalusia
  • VT Liébana - Cantabria
  • VT Mallorca - Balearic Islands
  • VT Norte de Granada - Andalusia
  • VT Pozohondo - Albacete
  • VT Ribera de Andarax - Andalusia
  • VT Ribera de Gállego-Cinca Villas - Aragón
  • VT Ribera del Jiloca - Aragon
  • VT Ribera del Queiles - Aragón + Navarre
  • VT Serra de Tramuntana-Costa Nord / Mallorca - Balearic Islands
  • VT Sierra de las Estancias y los Filabres - Andalusia
  • VT Sierra Norte de Seville - Andalusia
  • VT Val do Miño-Ourense - Galicia
  • VT Valdejalón - Aragon
  • VT Valle de Cinca - Aragon
  • VT Valles de Sadacia - Rioja

Vino de Mesa

  • Andalucía
  • Aragon
  • Islas Balears
  • Islas Canarias
  • Castilla-La Mancha
  • Castilla y León
  • Catalunya
  • Extremadura
  • Galicia
  • La Rioja
  • Madrid
  • Murcia
  • Navarre
  • Valencia

The official name (possibly several names) of the region is followed by the vineyard area in hectares and the point in time from which the region is recognized as a DO region or as a Vino de la Tierra region in the format [mm / yyyy]. In some regions, the regional wine law was only passed a few years after being appointed DO (delay, e.g. due to the civil war). There is an additional time stamp for these regions. The individual data for a region are separated from each other with a "•".


Wine-growing regions in Andalusia with a protected designation of origin
(DO = Denominación de Origen )

Andalusia is the southernmost region of Spain and therefore the hottest part of the peninsula. The sherry produced by Jerez de la Frontera is of international importance.




Aragon is located in northeastern Spain. The region includes the wide valley of the Ebro. In the north the Pyrenees dominate, supplying the arid Ebro Valley with water. Due to its location near this mountain range, the DO Somontana wines have the best potential. The three other DO areas are located south of the Ebro.

Balearic Islands

Balearic Islands

In 1991 Mallorca received its first recognized quality area, Binissalem , north of Palma at the foot of the Tramuntana Mountains. In 1999, the Pla i Llevant DO area followed in the east of the country . Both areas account for 90% of Mallorca's total wine production. In 2001, around 25 million liters of wine were produced in both areas on approx. 700 hectares. Around 240 winemakers are registered on Mallorca, but only a small number of them have so far met the prescribed criteria for growing quality wines.

Basque Country

Basque Country
  • Chacolí de Álava (Basque Arabako Txakolina ), DO • 55 ha • 07/2002 • 08/2002
  • Chacolí de Vizcaya (Basque Bizkaiko Txakolina ), DO • 140 ha • 11/1994
  • Chacolí de Guetaria ( Getariako Txakolina in Basque ), DO • 170 ha • 04/1990
  • Rioja Alavesa is one of the 3 sub-regions of the DOC Rioja and is located in the Basque Country • 12,500 ha (included in the total size of the Rioja )

Canary Islands

Canary Islands


Castile-La Mancha

Castile La Mancha

The region is also being created:

Castile and León

Castile and Leon

Castile-Léon consists of nine provinces and forms the heartland of Spain, as the Reconquista , the reunification of Spain under Christian rule in the Middle Ages, was largely carried out from here . The Duero River influences the climatic conditions of the DO zones Cigales, Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro. The latest DO Bierzo is geographically separated from the other regions and is stylistically based on wines from Galicia.

The region is emerging:

  • Arribes , DO (This region originates from the Arribes del Duero country wine region)


Wine-growing areas with DO in Catalonia
  • Alella , DO • 600 ha • 09/1932 • 12/1955
  • Catalunya , DO • 7,000 ha • 02/2001
  • Cava (supra-regional denomination with a focus on Catalonia), D • 32,000 hectares in total • 02/1986
  • Conca de Barberà , DO • 6,000 ha • 12/1989
  • Costers del Segre , DO • 4,144 hectares • 05/1988
  • Empordà • 2,500 ha • 07/1972 • 05/1975
  • Montsant , DO • 2,058 ha • 07/2002
  • Penedès , DO • 27,500 ha • 09/1932 • 05/1960
  • Pla de Bages , DO • 550 ha • 06/1997
  • Priorat , DOCa • 1,600 ha • 09/1932 • 07/1954
  • Tarragona , DO • 8,000 ha • 09/1932 • 03/1947
  • Terra Alta , DO • 9,200 ha • 12/1972 • 09/1985

Extremadura (region)

Extremadura region



Galicia with its capital Santiago de Compostela is located in the north-west of Spain and differs significantly from other parts of Spain. The Atlantic on one side and the mountain ranges of the Cordillera Cantábrica ensure a more humid and cooler climate. The region is also often called the green Spain . There are five DO regions, of which Rias Baixas is the most internationally known area.

La Rioja (Spanish region)


Autonomous Community of Madrid

Madrid region

Murcia (region)

Region of Murcia


In the Middle Ages, the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela stimulated the demand for wine. At the end of the 19th century, Navarre benefited from its proximity to France. Since phylloxera invaded northern Spain much later than in France, it was possible to export a considerable part of the production there for about 20 years. In 1892 the vineyards fell victim to the pest. Even if the region recovered relatively quickly from this infestation, the current vineyard area is only a third of the area of ​​1890. The winemakers switched from producing simple rosados to more sophisticated red wines relatively early . The Garnacha grape variety dominates the vineyards. Tempranillo is far behind in second place. White wine only accounts for around 10% of wine production. Macabeo is the predominant grape.

Valencia (region)



Web links

Commons : Spanish Wines  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. German Wine Institute : Statistics 2018/2019 . Mainz 2019 ( [PDF; 706 kB ] Source: German Wine Institute, according to the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin, Paris).
  2. Thomas Urban Spanish winemakers want to get away from the cheap image , August 30, 2017.
  3. Ministero de Agricultura: LISTADO DE Denominaciones. (PDF) Retrieved September 3, 2019 (Spanish).