Winemaking in Rías Baixas dates back thousands of years, but only during the past few decades has the region established a global reputation as a producer of top-quality wines from its signature grape, Albariño.
First came the Romans
The region’s first winemakers are believed to have been the Romans, whose occupation of the surrounding Galicia region brought trade, technology, and viticulture. More refined winemaking was introduced by Cistercian monks who arrived from France in the 12th century. Wine production in Galicia and Rías Baixas flourished in the 14th and 15th centuries with the discovery of the New World and the establishment of trade routes between Spain, England and the rest of Europe.
Planting and production in Galicia and Rías Baixas continued to expand through the 19th century until trade wars and export bans led to overcapacity and vineyard abandonment, and the arrival of Phylloxera, which devastated vineyards throughout Europe. During the replanting of hybrid and native Spanish varieties in the early 20th century, Albariño began to emerge as the region’s star, showing its potential to produce high-quality wines in the hands of a new generation of skilled winemakers.
Photography by Xurxo Lobato