Spanish History

The history of wine in Spain dates back over 3000 years with the arrival of Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans, who introduced viticulture to the Spanish territory.

During the Middle Ages, monasteries played a crucial role in the development and expansion of wine production. By the late 19th century, the phylloxera epidemic devastated Spain’s vineyards, but thanks to grafting resistant American grape varieties, the industry recovered.

Today, Spain is the third-largest wine producer in the world, with 70 different designations of origin reflecting the diversity and quality of its production.

This rich wine-making tradition, rooted in its history and culture, continues to be an essential part of its economy and tourist appeal.

Spanish wine is not just a beverage, it’s an experience. We invite you to live it on your next trip to Spain!

Be inspired to learn more about the history of Spain.

Wine is extremely important in Spain for various reasons:

Spain is a country located in southern Europe, bordered to the north by France, to the east by the Mediterranean Sea, and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean. Agriculture arrived in Europe around 5,500 BC, and Spain was inhabited by Iberians, Celts, and Celtiberians around 3,000 years ago. The cultivation of vines was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans. These civilizations recognized the potential of the region for vine cultivation and began planting vineyards in different parts of the territory. During the Roman era, viticulture expanded and gained significant economic and cultural importance.

During the Middle Ages, monasteries and religious orders played a fundamental role in expanding wine production. Monks cultivated grape varieties and improved winemaking techniques, passing on their knowledge through the centuries. In the late 19th century, Spain also experienced the devastating phylloxera crisis, like the rest of Europe. This plague caused significant damage to vineyards, but the country gradually recovered, especially thanks to grafting European vines onto resistant American rootstocks.

Despite the devastating effects of the phylloxera, Spain has shown great resilience and continued to be a region of great prestige in the world of wine, with several regions producing exceptional quality wines.

Viticulture and wine production are an integral part of Spanish culture and have been passed down from generation to generation. Wine is considered a central element of Spanish tradition and identity.

Variety and Quality
Spain is the third-largest wine-producing country in the world, after France and Italy, with a vineyard area of about 900,000 hectares. It boasts many wine regions, each with its own characteristics and wine styles. Its wine production reaches 36 million hectoliters, offering an incredible diversity of high-quality wines.

Designations of Origin
Spain has 70 Designations of Origin (DOs), which are systems regulating and protecting the quality and origin of wines. These DOs guarantee the authenticity and promote the differentiation of Spanish wines in both national and international markets. They contribute to the reputation and valorization of wines, which has a direct impact on the sector’s economy.

When the Romans arrived on the Peninsula, they revolutionized the wine production, betting on producing a large amount of wine and making it the most important economic engine in Spain, thus democratizing and making it accessible to everyone.

Currently, the wine industry in Spain is a significant source of employment and contributes significantly to the country’s economy. Wine production creates jobs in the fields, vineyard cultivation, cellars, as well as in wine marketing and export. Additionally, Spanish wine enjoys high demand both nationally and internationally, driving exports and trade.

Most wineries are open to enotourism, making it an attractive destination for wine lovers. Wineries offer visits and wine tastings, providing an opportunity to explore the vineyards, learn about production methods, and enjoy the unique flavors and aromas of Spanish wines. Many wineries also offer food products as accompaniments.

Wine is a fundamental component of Spanish gastronomy, considered a perfect complement to enjoy its rich and diverse cuisine, from tapas and cured meats to traditional dishes like paella, perfectly pairing with the variety of flavors and styles from cuisines around the world. All these reasons encourage you to visit two regions of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia: Penedès and Empordà, leading wine regions, both close to the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona.

Catalonia History

Catalonia, located in the northeast of Spain, is one of the most important and diverse wine regions in the country. It has a long history of viticulture dating back over 3000 years and is globally recognized today for its high-quality wines and cavas (Spanish sparkling wines).

The diverse climate and soil in Catalonia enable the production of a wide range of wine styles. It boasts 11 designations of origin, including the famous Empordà and Penedès, the birthplace of cava, the Spanish sparkling wine. These regions reflect the rich tradition and innovation in Catalan wine production and are prominent destinations for wine tourism.

This rich wine-making tradition, anchored in its history and culture, is a significant pillar for Catalonia’s economy, culture, heritage, and a tourist attraction for people from all around the world.
Be inspired to learn more about the history of Catalonia.

Located in northeastern Spain, it covers an area of 32,108 km2. It is a gateway to our country’s geological and prehistoric past.

It boasts a great variety of terrains. In general, primary lands—remnants of the old Hercynian massifs, partially incorporated into the reliefs of the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean System. Catalonia has its own specific climatic characteristics resulting from the influence of nearby Mediterranean areas. The average annual temperatures are relatively high, ranging from 0°C (in the coldest areas of the Pyrenees) to 17°C (in the southern coastal sector). It is mainly an agricultural region, with the most important crops being cereals, primarily wheat and barley, fruit trees, olive trees, fodder, and vines (63,027 ha).

There are many places to discover for new visitors, from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Sea, journeys to the historical past, where dolmens from the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, caves, and engravings on stones of great cultural value can be seen. It is a region with a rich history, with Roman settlements, impregnable castles, and the heritage richness of the old town of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. A kissing between the sea and the land, with family-friendly beaches, a gem of coves, and coastal walking trails.

Wine has a long cultural tradition in Catalonia and represents 25% of Spain’s wine production, reaching over 380 million bottles annually, of which two-thirds are destined for export.

The Catalan wine sector has a solid and competitive structure, with over 600 bottling wineries, 8,359 vine growers, and a surface area enrolled in Catalan DOs of 42,822 hectares. Wine production has remained quite stable over the last decade, at approximately 3.1 million hectoliters, thanks to increased yields per hectare.

There are eleven Denominations of Origin and one Regional Denomination: Denominació d’Origen Catalunya, which covers all wines without a specific regional denomination. The Cava Denomination of Origin is predominantly found in Penedès, where 92% of Cava is produced. Among these Denominations of Origin, we recommend visiting the Penedès region with the DO Penedès and the Empordà region with the DO Empordà.

Penedès History

Penedès, a region in Catalonia near Barcelona, has a rich wine-making tradition dating back over 3000 years.
Since the early 20th century, it underwent a renewal and modernization that improved the quality of its wines. A pioneer in Champagne-style sparkling wines in Spain during the 1960s, the region continued to innovate with new grape varieties and sustainable practices.

Today, Penedès is internationally renowned for its wine excellence and has become a prominent wine tourism destination, offering beautiful landscapes and a wide range of high-quality wines, with an annual production of over 20 million liters across its 25,000 hectares of vineyards.
Be inspired to learn more about the history of Penedès.

The history of wine in Penedès is rich and fascinating, with a winemaking tradition dating back 3,000 years. The Penedès region is located in the province of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, and is renowned for its production of high-quality wines and cavas (sparkling wines).

In the early 20th century, Penedès began a period of renewal and modernization. New viticulture and winemaking techniques were introduced, improving the quality of wine produced in the region. Additionally, the arrival of the railway facilitated the transportation of wine to other parts of Spain and Europe, contributing to its spread and popularity.

In the 1960s, Penedès became the first region in Spain to adopt traditional sparkling wine production techniques, similar to champagne. This was made possible thanks to the initiative of visionary producers who invested in the production of high-quality sparkling wines.

In the following decades, Penedès continued to innovate and diversify its production. New grape varieties, such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, were introduced alongside traditional indigenous varieties like Macabeu, Xarel·lo, and Parellada. Moreover, new winemaking techniques and sustainable agriculture methods were developed.

Today, Penedès is well-known nationally and internationally for the quality of its wines. The region is home to numerous wineries, many of which offer tours and wine tastings. Penedès has become a major enotourism destination, where visitors can enjoy beautiful landscapes and taste a wide variety of wines, from sparkling to red and white high-quality wines.

Penedès covers an area of 25,000 hectares of vineyards, producing over 20 million liters per year.

Empordà History

Empordà, located in the northern part of Catalonia, boasts a rich wine-making tradition spanning 3000 years. From its origins influenced by the Phoenicians and the Greek colony of Empúries, wine cultivation has been a fundamental part of the region.

Despite the devastation of the phylloxera epidemic in the 19th century, viticulture resurged in the 20th century with modern wineries and production improvements.

Today, it’s renowned for its high-quality wines and has become a prominent wine tourism destination, offering winery tours that combine wine tasting with the historical and artistic richness of the region. In addition to its renowned wine-making tradition, Empordà is known for its spectacular landscapes and rich culture, including the artistic legacy of the famous Salvador Dalí, who was born in Figueres, a city in the region.

Be inspired to learn more about the history of Empordà.

The history of the Empordà is rich and fascinating, with a winemaking tradition that dates back 3,000 years. The Empordà region is located in the province of Girona, in Catalonia, Spain, and is known for its centuries-old wine-making tradition. The history of wine in the Empordà has ancient roots and has been influenced by different cultures over the centuries.

In order to understand the first steps of the wine culture in Empordà, it is necessary to go back to the Phoenician period, also thanks to the Greek colony of Empúries, the knowledge of wine began to arrive. The wine trade in the area gave impetus to the wine-growing activity that would end up giving the Empordà area its current prestige.

In the Middle Ages, some monks perfected the Empordà wine-making process. Moreover, as a curiosity, the wine races appeared, which were competitions organised to reward the best wines of the area. These competitions helped to promote the quality of Empordà wines and to consolidate their reputation.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, wine became a symbol of agricultural impulse in the area. Wine growing reached its peak here. However, the phylloxera plague of 1879 brought the area to a halt. The devastating effects wiped out many of the Empordà’s vineyards and the hegemony of the wine that had prevailed. The following years were hard.

In the 20th century, modern wineries were built that allowed the wine industry to grow in the area. Moreover, the wine production and marketing systems were improved, raising awareness of the quality of Empordà wines and helping them to expand again.

Today, the Empordà is one of the most important wine regions in Spain, with a production of high quality and internationally recognised wines. It has the Empordà Designation of Origin, which guarantees the origin and quality of the wines produced in the region. The region is characterised by its diversity of soils, microclimates and grape varieties, which allows the production of high quality black, white and rosé wines.

In short, the history of wine in the Alt Empordà is characterised by an ancient tradition that has experienced ups and downs over the years, but which has been strongly reaffirmed in recent decades. Today, the region is renowned for the quality of its wines and the spectacular scenery that surrounds it, and has become an important destination for wine tourism enthusiasts. 

The Empordà is also known for its rich history and culture, including links with the artist Salvador Dalí, who was born in Figueres, a town in the region. This cultural context makes a visit to the Empordà wineries an even richer experience, as many of them offer guided tours that combine wine tasting with the history and art of the region.