6 Lesser-Known Spanish Wine Regions You Need to Visit Right Now

Visit these underrated places in Spain, and taste incredible wine along the way.

Rows of green, leafy vineyard under the sun

Navarra is one of Spain’s underrated wine regions.

Photo by vicenfoto/Shutterstock

When you think of Spanish wine, the Rioja region likely comes to mind. There you find tempranillo, Rioja’s reigning red variety, along with garnacha, graciano, and mazuelo (and less used but still fantastic white grapes like viura, malvasía, and garnacha blanca). And while Rioja claims about 600 wineries, it’s just one of a few dozen wine-producing regions in Spain, classified as denominaciones de origen (D.O.). In areas from the northwest in Galicia to the southeast in Alicante, these national vineyards produce bold reds and an increasingly larger number of fresh, crisp whites, plus sparkling wines, natural wines, rosés, and sherries.

In fact, Spain is the world’s third-largest wine-producing country (behind Italy and France). While Rioja is undoubtedly its most famous grape-growing locale, you’d be remiss to skip its lesser-known but entirely remarkable wine regions. Here are six worth raising a glass to: ¡Salud!

 Codorníu is the oldest cava producer in Penedés, set just outside of Barcelona.

Codorníu is the oldest cava producer in Penedés, set just outside of Barcelona.

Photo by Eckhard Supp/Alamy

Penedés, Catalonia

People looking to pop a celebratory bottle often turn to champagne, but high-quality sparkling varieties can also be found just outside of Barcelona in Penedés, one of Catalonia’s most important wine-producing areas with nearly 300 wineries. Home to the largest production zone for cava—Spain’s answer to its more-expensive French counterpart—the Penedés region is accessible via a quick 45-minute train ride from Barcelona to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. The village is a hub for Penedés exploration from where you’ll want to rent a car or hire a taxi.

Greater Catalonia, in the northeastern part of Spain, is known for its gorgeous beaches, access to the Pyrenees, and gastronomic delights, but its Penedés wine region is where to go to get the party started. Sant Sadurní is the center for all things cava; standout cava houses to check out include Freixenet, Recaredo, and Llopart. Then visit the Vinseum in the region’s historical center, the small city of Vilafranca, about a 30-minute drive from Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, to take a deep dive into Catalonia’s wine history.

What to drink: Codorníu, the area’s oldest cava producer, makes classic wines in the traditional method using cava’s three main grape varieties—xarel-lo (pronounced “char-ello”), paraellada, and macabeo—along with chardonnay and pinot noir. Try the Anna de Codorníu blanc de blancs reserve; with citrus and tropical fruit notes and creamy lemon curd, its tiny beads continue to dance while you sip it alone or with freshly caught shellfish.

The sustainably minded Raimat winery has been turning out quality wines in Costers del Segre since 1918.

The sustainably minded Raimat winery has been turning out quality wines in Costers del Segre since 1918.

Courtesy of Raimat

Costers del Segre, Catalonia

Some of Spain’s most elegant garnacha-driven wines hail from Catalonia’s celebrated Priorat wine region, known for its mountainous, rocky terrain, where wineries like Scala Dei produce award-winning vintages (in this case, on the site of a property dating back to the late 12th century). But take a two-hour drive from Barcelona to find a tiny Catalonian D.O. really making a name for itself. Costers del Segre has nearly 40 wineries planting tempranillo and garnacha as well as French varieties like cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Rent a car or sign up for a wine tour to set out and explore the designated Lleida Wine Route.

What to drink: Producing wine since 1918, Raimat offers must-tries including Rosada, a cab/tempranillo rosé with beautiful strawberry and red fruit notes, great acidity, and a super-long finish that rivals those favored pink juices from Provence. If you like reds, don’t pass up Raimat’s Abadia, also a cab/tempranillo blend that shows plum, spice, and chocolate.

Close-up of dark grapes hanging from a vine

If you love red wine, consider visiting the Ribera del Duero region.

Photo by Mario Gil/Shutterstock

Ribera del Duero, Castile-Leon

While tempranillo-based wines are commonly associated with the Rioja region, the red wine is also a favorite of the Ribera del Duero. There are around 300 wineries in this denominación de origen, which is a two-hour drive north of Madrid. More than 90 percent of the vineyards in the area grow tempranillo grapes (which are known as tinta del país in this region). Because of this, red wine fans will have plenty to enjoy—tempranillo takes the spotlight here, but cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, and garnacha tinta are a few of the other grapes found in the Ribera del Duero. Cutting through the middle of the region is the Duero River, which is near many towns and vineyards on the Ribera del Duero Wine Route.

What to drink: Of course, tempranillo is a must-try on a visit to the Ribera del Duero region. Head to Bodegas Gormaz vineyard in the beautiful village of San Esteban de Gormaz to try this earthy, dry variety.

The Rueda region, set just an hour away by train from Madrid, is the capital of verdejo, a white wine; try it at standout wineries like Bodegas Hermanos del Villar.

The Rueda region, set just an hour away by train from Madrid, is the capital of verdejo, a white wine; try it at standout wineries like Bodegas Hermanos del Villar.

Photo by Friederike Paetzold

Rueda, Castile-Leon

If you love albariño but want to explore other Spanish white wine, look no further than Rueda, some 90 minutes from Madrid by car (or an hour by train) and 30 minutes from Valladolid, the closest city with plenty of restaurants, bars, and hotels. The region, perched between the Ribera del Duero wine region and Portugal, is home to nearly 70 wineries. Temps skyrocket in the summer and drop during the winter in Rueda, and vines are dug deep into limestone, producing acid-driven wines with lovely citrus notes that pair perfectly with shellfish, salads, and fresh cheeses.

What to drink: Bodegas Hermanos del Villar’s Oro de Castilla makes for a good substitution for Loire Valley sauvignon blanc, offering plenty of grapefruit and tangerine, balanced with tarragon and lots of minerality.

More remote Galicia is oft-overlooked in the wine world, but it consists of five D.O.s, including the more recognized Rias Baixas and (as pictured here) notable up-and-comer Ribeira Sacra.

Tucked away in the country’s northwest corner, above Portugal, Galicia deserves more attention. It rains—a lot—therefore making the area incredibly green and lush.

Photo by Shutterstock

Rias Baixas, Galicia

Located in the northwest corner of Spain, Galicia, known for its whites, may be one of the most-overlooked regions to visit in the country. With its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Galicia offers a diet rich in seafood as reflected in the local tapas scene. Most importantly for oenophiles, the region consists of five D.O.s, including Rias Baixas, the best bet, for its mineral-driven, green apple–, and stone fruit–filled albariños that account for 90 percent of all grapes grown in the region. Plant yourself in the town of Pontevedra, about an hour from both Vigo and Santiago de Compostela, the larger cities you can fly into or reach via a train ride from Madrid. Then you can rent a car to go along the Ruta do Viño Rias Baixas.

But smaller regions, like Monterrei and Ribeira Sacra, about two hours and four hours, respectively, by car from Rias Baixas, are also gaining worthwhile attention for white wines made with godello, treixadura, and albariño, and a handful of reds, too (primarily with the sleeper hit mencia).

What to drink: From Rias Baixas, the Forjas del Salnes Leirana albariño by winemaker Rodrigo Mendez is crisp and dry, with notes of apple, honeysuckle, and citrus and a flavor profile just to the left of a great cider. By sipping it, you can almost taste the sea air.

Rows of green, leafy vineyard under the sun

Navarra is one of Spain’s underrated wine regions.

Photo by vicenfoto/Shutterstock

Navarra, Navarra

Navarra, a region known for its bull-running festival and for being the setting behind Hemingway classic The Sun Also Rises is also home to the Navarra denominación de origen. D.O. Navarra is spread throughout the Navarra’s southern half and has five wine-growing areas. Garnacha is the most common grape grown here, but pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay are also found in these parts. Get an overview of the region’s bounty through its wine route, and you can also learn about Spain’s historical side as it passes by the Camino de Santiago.

What to drink: Bodega Otazu is one of only 20 or so wine estates in Spain to have the prestigious “Vino de Pago” recognition (this is the highest distinction a vineyard can achieve). The vineyard made news in 2017 when its Vitral vintage was priced at 2,000 euros per bottle, but you can spend less than 100 euros to try varieties like its bright, flowery Ozu by Otazu Chardonnay. Don’t forget to stay a while, because this winery is home to incredible contemporary artworks.

This article was originally published in 2019 and most recently updated in July 2024 with current information. Chloe Arrojado contributed to the reporting of this story.

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