The wine-making region of Somontano nestles in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the little known province of Huesca. This enviable location is an ideal stopping place for wine tourists to Spain as it is located halfway between the wine regions of Catalonia and the vineyards of La Rioja and offers a chance to experience a different Spain.
History and Grapes of the Somontano Wine Region
Despite the fact that wine-making in the region dates as far back as 200 years BC, Somontano is one of the youngest DOs in Spain, having recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. It now boasts 33 wineries and 200 different wines created from the 13 recognised grape varieties. The indigenous grapes of Parraleta, Moristel and Alcañon are currently enjoying a revival and reflect the genuine terroir of the region in many of its wines, alongside other varieties such as Macabeo, Tempranillo, Garnacha and Merlot. Somontano is also one of the smallest DOs in the country, covering an area of 4,700 hectares of pre-Pyrenean terrain.
Soil and Climate
The majority of the vines in Somontano lie in dark limestone soil with some sand and clay. The soft sub-soil allows roots to penetrate deep into the ground, where they absorb moisture and nutrients, in many cases from alluvial deposits. The soil is low in fertility and has excellent drainage.
The region sits at an altitude of between 400 and 600m and its climate is described as Continental, characterized by cold winters and warm summers. There are marked changes in temperature between night and day, especially in spring and autumn. Summer temperatures can reach as high as 40º, with winter temperatures dropping as low as -10º. The average annual rainfall is around 500 millimetres.
Tourism in the Somontano Area
As far as tourism goes, Somontano has plenty to offer the visitor to complement its wine culture. In addition to the permanent backdrop of the Pyrenean peaks, its impressive natural heritage includes the dramatic scenery of the Sierra de Guara National Park. Rivers, rain and wind have sculpted deep canyons and ravines from this imposing mountain range, giving rise to a landscape that is totally unique within Europe. It is a true paradise for nature lovers and bird-watchers as well as those that enjoy the thrill of white-knuckle adventure sports such as canyoning. Pre-historic cave art is a feature of the River Vero Cultural Park, as is the medieval village of Alquézar with its hill-top collegiate church, which perches precariously above the River Vero canyon. A number of small visitor centres pay homage to the culture of the region, including olive oil production and pottery, and the spiritual Torreciudad shrine is a pilgrimage destination that attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Somontano Winery Visits
Around half of the wineries in Somontano welcome visitors and most can offer guided tours in English. These range from small family run affairs where visitors are shown a real working bodega, often by the owner themselves, to the big names of the area such as Enate, Viñas del Vero and Bodegas Pirineos, which pull out all the stops to impress.
All tours include a look at the production area and cellars with explanations of the wine making process and of course include the all-important tasting to round off the visit.
The Ruta del Vino Somontano website includes details of local accommodation and times of winery visits. In addition, the official website of the Somontano wine region provides more useful information for visitors.