The Navarra wine region, located in northern Spain, has traditionally been known for its rosado (rose) wines made from grape varietals such as Garnacha. The region, despite its size, contains just a single denominacion de origen (DO): the Navarra DO. This DO extends southward of the administrative capital of Pamplona.
The history of winemaking in Navarra extends back to the ancient Roman era when the Romans built wineries (bodegas) in the area. During the Middle Ages, Navarra’s winemakers prospered heavily as a result of the region’s close ties to France. At that time, Navarra was a powerful independent kingdom.
In terms of climate, Navarra primarily has a continental climate characterized by long, hot dry summers and cold winters. However, the climate is somewhat moderated by geographical features, such as the Bay of Biscay (along with the Atlantic), the Pyrenees Mountains (located to the northeast) and the Ebro River. There are actually five sub-zones within the Navarra DO, each one of them different in overall climate and growing conditions.
Until recently, Garnacha was the most popular grape varietal in Valencia. However, Tempranillo has now overtaken Garnacha in popularity, accounting for 36% of red wine production (compared to 32% for Garnacha). Other popular red grape varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Graciano and Mazuela. Overall, red wines account for 95% of all wine produced in Navarra. White grape varietals grown in Navarra include Viura, Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca, Malvasia and a local version of Moscatel.
The change in production to favor Tempranillo over the more traditional Garnacha has largely been the result of the region’s attempts to become known as a producer of high-quality wines and achieve the same kind of success on the world stage as Navarra’s southern neighbor, Rioja.