Cariñena, located in Spain’s northeast region of Aragón, is recognized as the “birthplace of garnacha.” It boasts the country’s most plantings of old vines, commonly 40 or 50 years old, many of which took root more than a century ago. These old vines add structure and depth to both aged and young wines while showcasing the region’s best traditional, native red grapes; but that’s not all visitors will discover here. World travelers will also find rustic Spanish charm, culinary adventure, history, culture, and art. Cariñena, a town established by ancient Romans that’s rich in history, is one of Europe’s oldest winemaking regions, and its surroundings offer plenty of enticing experiences.
Named by Wine Enthusiast as a “Wine Region to Watch,” Cariñena’s unique location near the Pyrenees Mountains features cooling Cierzo winds that offset the area’s natural heat. Its climate and terroir, combined with its hearty old vines and stony soils, leads to rich, nuanced wines with power and structure.
With three major wineries in the region – Bodega San Valero, Grandes Vinos, and Bodegas Paniza – a visit to any or all of the above wineries offers an in-depth look at the winemaking process, a tour of the spectacular vineyards and landscape, as well as some exceptional wine flights in their tasting rooms. The experience is well worth dedicating a day or two of your travels.
Situated halfway between Madrid and Barcelona, Cariñena resides right next to its closest neighbor – Zaragoza. As the capital city of Aragón, Zaragoza is home to authentic sights, sounds, and most importantly, flavors. It’s a paradise for foodies of all persuasions. For elegant dining experience Casa Lac, a Michelin Guide-recommended restaurant that emphasizes local, seasonal vegetables and meats paired perfectly with the region’s food-friendly wines. For a nighttime culinary adventure embark on a tapas crawl down “El Tubo,” located in the Casco Antiguo, a series of narrow streets that can only be trafficked by foot. This vibrant area full of tapas bars is just waiting to be explored. Here’s an insider tip: Be sure to try ternasco de Aragón (roasted lamb with potatoes), a classic dish from the region. No trip would be complete without indulging in this delicious regional dish that’s simple, straightforward, and should not be missed.
Now that you have explored the gourmet flavors of the region, it’s time to discover its history, culture, and art. Start with a step back in time while at the Palacio de la Aljafería. This castle was originally built as a fortified medieval Islamic palace during the second half of the 11th century. It is a declared UNESCO world heritage site and has housed Muslim and Spanish royalty. Today it serves as the Cortes (regional parliament) of Aragón. Zaragoza was also home to the famous painter, Francisco Goya. Art aficionados can get a peek at some of his stunning frescoes at the Cathedral Basílica del Pilar, a breathtaking cathedral constructed in 1681.
The combination of wine, food, history, culture, and art make a visit to the Cariñena region a unique experience for travelers. No matter what entices you, there’s something for everyone to discover.
For more information about Cariñena Wines visit wineregiontowatch.com and connect with us @VinosCariñena on Instagram and Twitter.