Castilla y Leon, located in the northwest of Spain, is one of the nation’s most important winemaking regions. There are nine denominacions de origen (DOs) located in Castilla y Leon, including Rueda, Toro and Ribera del Duero.
Castilla y Leon is actually the largest of the 17 administrative regions in Spain and the largest region of the European Union. It is the home of more than half (nearly 60 percent) of all of Spain’s heritage sites. For example, there are 8 UNESCO world heritage sites, 400 museums and 500 castles located here.
Geographically, Castilla y Leon is located in the Meseta Central, a plateau in the middle of the northern half of the Iberian Peninsula. This geographic location accounts for hot, dry and dusty summers experienced in Castilla y Leon.
The most famous red wines of Castilla y Leon are produced in Toro and Ribera del Duero, which is home to one of the most famous wineries in Spain: Vega Sicilia. This famous winery was founded in 1864 by a Spanish winemaker who planted various grapes from the Bordeaux wine region of France, including Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
In terms of red grape varietals, Tempranillo is easily the most popular. In terms of white grape varietals, Verdejo, a minerally white wine from Rueda, is popular. The most famous wines of the region – such as those from Vega Sicilia – are sometimes a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Tempranillo.
Viticulture has been an important part of the local economy for nearly 2,000 years, with wine production in the region even pre-dating the arrival of the Romans. In the late 20th century, the focus shifted from quantity to quality, which has helped to raise the profile of the region internationally.