Picking a Spanish wine region to visit is just as tough as picking out a bottle at the shop. Each has its own flavor and style. Whether you’re a sparkling fan, or would rather have something that pairs with seafood (to sip while sitting seaside), here are three ways to plan a DIY wine tour through some of Spain’s hottest regions.
Ribera del Duero
Start: Just a two-hour drive northwest of Madrid, Ribera del Duero -- known for its red tempranillo grapes -- stretches along the Duero river in the Castilla y León region.
Sip: The farmhouse-chic Valdubón estate is named after the nearby Valle de Ubón and sits regally above a 100-acre Tempranillo vineyard. A favorite here is the deep red Reserva, crafted from grapes grown on 30-year-old vines. But if you get the chance to sample the Diez, you’re in luck. Ten winemakers came together to craft this bottle in celebration of the winery’s 10th anniversary, blending vintages from 2012, 2013, and 2014 -- and only 10,000 bottles were created in total.
Sleep: You can easily enjoy the area on a day trip from Madrid, but if you want a full-on city escape, stay at the five-star Castilla Termal Monasterio de Valbuena (rates from €95, approximately $107 USD), a 79-room hotel that opened last year in a 12th century Cistercian monastery. The area’s first five-star property -- with thermal water filling its seven pools -- is surrounded by vineyards, but the hotel can also arrange tours to wineries sitting along the Milla de Oro, or Golden Mile, between the towns of Peñafiel and Tudela de Duero.
Start: Hop a flight from Madrid to the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela, and in a little over an hour you’ll be in the heart of the Rías Baixas wine region. This is white wine heaven, thanks to vineyards full of Albariño grapes.
Sip: From the Vionta Winery, you can look out at the Atlantic and see the island it’s named after. The Ferrer Family purchased the winery in the Salnés Valley two years ago, growing Albariño grapes in three area vineyards.
Stay: Explore the valley from a homebase at Quinta de San Amaro, a 14-room B&B that’s 10 minutes away from Galicia’s beaches. Arrange for a bespoke wine and food tour of the region, or take to the sea with tour company Amare, which can arrange picnics on one of Ria de Arousa’s islands.
Start: Spend a few days soaking up Barcelona’s wine and tapas scene before heading to Cava country, the home of Spain’s sparkling wine with over 200 producers. It's less than an hour away.
Sip: At the Casa Sala Winery in the Penedès region, Freixenet is crafting Cava the same way it was made a century ago -- sans pumps or filters -- and is the only winery in Cava that makes its own yeast. The family house is the group’s original winery, where they produced the first bottle of Freixenet cava in 1914. After sampling the bubbles, take off on a cycling tour through the vineyards to the family’s other estate, La Freixeneda. The revamped 12th century farmhouse looks out to Montserrat Mountain and offers tastings of its estate red wine, which is produced in barrels fashioned after the ones used in old Catalan farmhouses.
Sleep: Because Cava is so close to Barcelona, you can day trip from the Catalonian capital and stay at the sleek designer hotel and hostel, Generator Barcelona. Snag one of the terrace rooms (rates from €74) for sweeping views over the city. If you want to be right in the city center, book a stay at the contemporary NH Collection Barcelona Gran Hotel Calderón, a 255-room hotel that's within walking distance of La Rambla (rates from €161).