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23 julio 2024

Wine tourism in the province of Zaragoza (Spain): exploring the routes of the 3 Denominations of Origin

The province of Zaragoza is an area where it’s easy to raise a glass to good wine. It is home to three of Aragon’s Designations of Origin: Calatayud, Campo de Borja and Cariñena. The originality and tradition of the province’s wines have not gone unnoticed, as they are exported far and wide. Nor are the secrets of the production of these popular wines hidden: wine tourism in the province of Zaragoza has grown in recent decades, thanks to the impetus of the institutions and their respective designations of origin.

It’s easy for wine lovers to follow one of these routes, thanks to tools such as the selection of gastronomic routes by the Diputación Provincial de Zaragoza or the many wine tourism activities in the province of Zaragoza run by the Designation of Origin itself.

Grab your glass and let us take you on a wine tour of the province of Zaragoza.

Wine tourism in Calatayud

The Comunidad de Calatayud is located in an area where wine production dates back to the 2nd century BC, with the discovery of a wine press in the Celtiberian village of Segeda, as indicated by the Calatayud Denomination of Origin. The first written mention of wine in the region dates back to the 1st century, by the Bilbilitano historian Marco Valerio Marcial. It was the Romans, who founded Bílbilis, who introduced vines to the region.

Vineyards of the Calatayud Denomination of Origin. Photo: DO Calatayud.

Centuries later, 12 wineries and more than 800 experts and winemakers take care of this heritage. The native Garnacha grape is one of the representatives of this heritage. Wild and long-cycle, this red variety is ideal for these vineyards, the highest in Aragon and one of the highest in Spain.

IT IS KNOWN AS THE “EXTREME VINEYARD” BECAUSE IT ADAPTS TO THE EXTREME CLIMATIC CONDITIONS IN A COMPLEX OROGRAPHY, BETWEEN 650 AND 1,100 METERS ABOVE SEA LEVEL.

The Calatayud Wine Route

The Calatayud Wine Route is easy to reach: the second largest town in the province of Zaragoza is half an hour from the Aragonese capital and just 55 minutes from Madrid, thanks to the AVE high-speed train.

In addition to its winemaking tradition, the region offers a rich cultural heritage, with Mudejar architecture declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, magical enclaves such as the Monastery of Piedra, one of the most visited natural parks in the country, and its famous spas, which offer treatments based on wine or red grapes. Another unique combination in the region is that of wine and golf.

Wine tourism in Spagna
Wine tasting along the Wine Route. Photo: DO Calatayud.

Vineyards, wineries, tastings and a very special museum

If we focus exclusively on wine tourism activities, we find a wide range of options that can be booked and viewed on the Calatayud Wine Route website.

The first is a visit to one of the wineries with wine tasting and other options such as a local cooking workshop, tasting of local products or even lunch at the winery itself.

For those who want to venture into the “extreme vineyards” and discover the cycle of the vine from the ground up, it is also possible to visit them, again by reservation.

Another stop not to be missed on this wine tour of the Calatayud region is the Wine Museum, located in such a special place as the monastic cilla and old cellars of the Monasterio de Piedra, where you can learn how this precious liquid was made in the days of the monks and how it has evolved to the present day.

Wine Museum. Photo: DO Calatayud

In addition, the D.O. and the cultural association La Dolores organize tastings in the space named after this famous bilbilitana: the museum La Dolores.

Wine tourism in Campo de Borja

With a heritage of 5,000 hectares of Garnacha, spread over three zones at different altitudes, the Campo de Borja D.O. has earned the nickname “Garnacha Empire”. It’s not for nothing that the oldest vineyards of this D.O. date back to 1203 and that a large part of its land is planted with Garnacha vines between 30 and 50 years old.

Wine tourism in Spain
Grapes from Campo de Borja. Photo: DO Campo de Borja.

In this sense, its pioneering “Historic Garnacha” initiative to conserve vines and promote wines made from old vines is remarkable. The project involves Bodegas Ainzón, Bodegas Aragonesas and Bodegas Borsao, as well as the Universities of Zaragoza and Navarre.

AT PRESENT, THE DOP INCLUDES 17 WINERIES THAT PRODUCE DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF RED AND WHITE WINES.

The Garnacha Route

The Moncayo region’s rich wine heritage is complemented by attractions such as the Nature Reserve, the Monastery of Veruela, the monumental towns of Borja and Tarazona, its villages and natural spaces, ideal for hiking and cycling.

But if we want to discover its wines, we can’t miss the Route of the Garnacha, another of the wine tourism proposals of the province of Zaragoza, which groups together the activities of the region and where it is possible to access all the information and make reservations.

From the immersive experience of a day of grape harvesting and viticulture to the “Tasting Emotions” program, which offers a series of wine-related activities for each season. Visits to a number of wineries can also be booked.

wine tourism in spain
Grape harvest in Ainzón: Photo: DO Campo de Borja.

The Veruela Monastery: a magical enclave to get closer to wine

A visit to the Cistercian Monastery of Veruela can be combined with a visit to the Wine Museum, which is included in the entrance fee. One of the pioneering museums in Spain in this field, it shows the importance of the wine industry in the region.

It is also in this magnificent setting that the D.O.’s most unique activities take place: the “4 Seasons Cycle”, with four tastings a year. These experiences begin with a visit to the monastery, followed by a wine tasting accompanied by music and a suggested food pairing.

DO Campo de Borja Summer Tasting. Photo: DO Campo de Borja.

Wine tourism in Campo de Cariñena

With more than 14,000 hectares of vineyards spread over 16 municipalities and 29 wineries, the harsh environment in which this D.O. is located has given birth to the “wine born of stones”. Survival in these extreme conditions produces grapes that are concentrated, intense and full of aromas, as described in the Cariñena D.O.

ITS NATIVE GARNACHA DAZZLES HALF THE WORLD THANKS TO THE EXPORT POWER OF THIS LABEL, WHICH UNITES MORE THAN 1,300 WINEGROWERS.

The Roman villa of Carae (Cariñena), whose inhabitants drank wine mixed with honey, already existed in Roman times. In 2022, this DO of long life will celebrate the 90th anniversary of its recognition as one of the first in the 1923 Wine Statute.

Vineyards of Cariñena. Photo: DO Cariñena.

The most representative activity of this group of wineries is the Grape Harvest Festival, which has been held since the 1960s to mark the beginning of the grape harvest. Curiously, this festival of tourist interest in Aragon, which takes place around the Fuente de la Mora in Cariñena, has as its main event the “Exaltation of the Wine”. After the first grapes are crushed, around 6,000 liters of wine flow from this fountain, making it one of the most representative wine tourism activities in Zaragoza.

The Grape Harvest Festival. Photo: DO Cariñena.

The Campo de Cariñena Wine Route

In addition to the activities offered in Cariñena, Aguarón, Aladrén, Alfamén, Almonacid e la Sierra, Cosuenda, Encinacorba, Longares, Mezalocha, Muel, Paniza, Tosos and Villanueva de Huerva complete the Campo de Cariñena Wine Route. On its website you can find out which wineries you can visit, as well as the restaurants and bars where you can taste the best wines.

And if you’d prefer to be taken on a tour of these wines born of stone, you can do so on the Wine Route Bus. Departing from Zaragoza, the bus stops at different D.O. wineries, where you can taste their wines and learn about their history. An oenological experience complemented by a special meal and visits to villages and museums in the region.

Las Piedras Wine Route bus. Photo: DO Cariñena.

The DO Cariñena Wine Museum: a must for wine tourism.

Located in a cellar from the early 20th century, the Wine Museum offers an insight into the culture of the region and pays tribute to the local people who have dedicated themselves to making wine for centuries. The museum, where visitors can take an interesting journey through the winemaking process thanks to its machinery, also hosts various activities throughout the year, including an oenotheque, a tasting room and a thematic library.

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