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The foundation of viticulture in Spain can be traced back to the Tertiary period thanks to the findings of ancient grape seeds that are native to the Spanish region. While this dates back to before the Roman conquest, it was due to the Romans that Spanish wines were widely cultivated and traded throughout the region. Racing ahead to the discovery of the New World, Christopher Columbus opened the gateway to further expanding Spain’s wine market. Not only did Spain play a big roll in the growth of grape cultivation in the New World, but also forced its decline years later after realizing these new vineyards meant less profit on exporting Spanish wines to the Americas. Perhaps we can thank Spain’s expansion for beginning the unceasing dispute between New World Wines and Old World Wines!

Today, Spain is home to over 1 million hectares under vine making it the most expansive wine growing nation. Although much of its land is dedicated to growing grapes, it claims third place on the list of the largest wine producing countries, topped only by France in first place and Italy in second. Due to modernizations of winemaking and an attention to quality, Spanish wines have steadily risen to compete with the top wine producing countries.

Similarly to other European nation’s wine laws, Spain created their own Denominación de Origen (D.O.) to maintain high standards for wine growing, wine making and ultimately the wine quality. The D.O. also regulates the information printed on the wine labels. Uniquely, the terms Crianza, Reserve and Gran Reserve can be seen on wine labels from Spain and correspond to the age of the wine. Crianza are young wines that are meant to be enjoyed after 1 or 2 years of aging, Riserva wines are typically aged for 2 to 3 years and Gran Riserva wines are usually higher quality wines and are aged the longest, 4 to 5 years, with additional aging once bottled.

Due to Spain’s location on the Iberian Peninsula, the climate and geography creates ideal conditions suitable for growing grapes across the majority of the country. A few of Spain's major wine regions are: Valdepeñas, Jerez, Catalonia, Penedès, Priorat, Rioja and Ribera del Duero which are known for growing excellent Tempranillo and Rías Baixas and Galicia are known for their Albariño white wines. From hundreds of different grape varietals grown in Spain, common red varietals are: Tempranillo (the most planted red varietal in Spain), Garnacha (Grenache), Manto Negro, Mencía, Bobal, and Monastrell (Mouvèdre), while common white varietals are: Airén (the most planted white varietal in Spain), Verdejo, Albariño, Malvasia, Godello and Palomino.

There have been a number of exceptional wines from Spain featured in our International Wine Club and there will be many more to come!