For decades, only the most popular classic fortified wine regions of Andalucia had any notable international recognition. However with the current viticultural awakening across all autonomous regions in Spain it is the perfect time to familiarise with the broader range of Spanish wine with many wine cellars moving from quantity to quality wines!
Andalusia has a 2,000 year history of viticulture dating from Phoenician times as the topography, geology and climate are all excellent for growing grapes. The mild Mediterranean average temperatures, lack of frost and many hours of sunshine a year yield wines of great quality and wide characteristics. And with over 40,000 hectares of vineyards in Andalucía alone (that's more area “under vine” than New Zealand) – no wonder there are so many great wines waiting to be discovered!
When to go and how log for?
The best time to visit Spanish vineyards depends on what you are after. Spring offers a good combination of mild weather and outdoor activities and lower rate hotel accommodation, while during summer visitors need to be aware of the extreme daytime heat and the usual influx of crowds to all popular destinations particularly along the coastal areas.
Autumn is the best time for those with a serious interest in viticulture as it coincides with harvest season, and winter provides respite for people wishing to sample Andalucian wine and enjoy the local sights in relative tranquility. It is also worth mentioning that many bodegas close during the extreme summer heat in August.
Where to go?
There are several sub regions in Andalucia, namely Huelva, Cadiz, Jerez, Cordova, Malaga, Almería, Ribera del Andarax, Granada, Contraviesa-Alpujarra to name but a few.
Although there are many large wine cellars (especially around Jerez) with “open” visiting hours, the majority of the really interesting wine cellars are either boutique or family run operations and it may be difficult to secure a tour at short notice, or if you don’t speak Spanish. Some bodegas also only accept small groups at a time, and therefore if you really want to visit the most hidden cellars it’s best to join a wine tasting tour.
Wine tasting fees also vary widely, and can be higher than the rest of Spain with boutique bodegas charging at least around €20 per person. However don’t let that put you off as the tastings are not your usual 25 minute pit stops, and you certainly get your moneys worth!
The only drawback is the moderate distances to the wine cellars (with Ronda being one hour from Marbella for example), so public transportation options are rather limited. Once again, join a wine tour and have your own designated driver!
Andalucia has a strong wine making culture and there are several harvest festivals especially following wine harvest season in September/October.Read less