World’s Best Vineyard publishes its list of the 50 best wineries and vineyards to visit to learn more about wine, gastronomy and industrial heritage
Spain has one of the largest areas of vineyards in the world and, after Italy and France, is the third largest producer of wine in the world. These facts along with the millennial history of vine cultivation and production in our country, it is not surprising that wine tourism – centred around learning more about wine, gastronomy and the culture of the areas that produce wine- continues to grow in Spain. Evidence of this is the presence of four Spanish wineries on the World’s Best Vineyards list, which includes the 50 best vineyards in the world for wine tourism, located in 18 countries around the world.
The wineries of the Herederos del Marqués de Riscal, in Álava, occupy 6th place in the ranking, the best position among the four Spanish vineyards in the classification. World’s Best Vineyards highlights the City of Wine designed by the visionary Frank Gehry and its Michelin-starred restaurant. Founded in 1858 in the medieval town of Elciego, in the Rioja region of Alava, it is the oldest winery in the area and one of the most ambitious wine tourism projects in Spain. It also has a ‘Botellería Histórica‘ (Historical Bottle Shop) which includes among its 8 million bottles, jewels from the 19th century, as well as a wide range of some of the best Basque and Rioja gastronomy.
In 18th place are the wineries of Tio Pepe (González-Byass), located in the heart of the historic centre of Jerez, and whose extensive production complex is a living history of the Jerez and Andalusian wine tradition since the 19th century. The ranking highlights its extensive collection of sherries, the largest in the world (with bottles from the 19th and 20th centuries), as well as the possibility of tasting different varieties such as fino, amontillado, palo cortado, oloroso, Pedro Ximénez and other flavours. World’s Best Vineyards also highlights Jerez de la Frontera as one of the most impressive short term tourist destinations in Europe, the quintessence of Andalusian culture, providing activities such as purebred horse shows, visits to palaces in the city and, of course, tapas.
Once again in Rioja, Bodegas Vivanco is at number 41 on the international list. An enclave, located between valleys and mountains, which has managed to place itself among the top wine tourism destinations not only in La Rioja, but in all of Spain. The world ranking especially highlights its Museum of Wine Culture, one of the most impressive in the world, which has four floors, over 6,000 pieces on display, from century-old wine pieces to works by Picasso, Juan Gris and Andy Warhol, and which since its opening in 2004 has received over one million visitors. The Museum is joined by the Bacchus Garden, with over 220 varieties of grapes from all over the world.
Finally, in position 42, are the Torres Family wineries – Pacs del Penedès. As the list shows, this is one of the oldest families in the wine sector: five generations dedicated to wine production and operations in Spain, Chile and the USA. World’s Best Vineyards highlights the iconic Mas La Plana, a minimalist winery one hour from Barcelona; the Jardí El Celleret restaurant, with impressive views of Montserrat; and La Bodega Waltraud, designed by Javier Barba in Pacs del Penedès. Also in this small town the visitors can follow the Carretera del Vi, the first official wine route in the Mediterranean, which has a route of 40 kilometres through an old Roman road, which links 13 wineries with the beach of Garraf.
Excellent wine tourism figures
In addition to classifications and awards such as the list of the best wineries, the reality is that the evolution of wine tourism in Spain over the last few decades has been very positive.
According to the twelfth Annual Report on Visits to Wineries and Wine Museums published by the Tourism Observatory of the Spanish Association of Wine Cities (ACEVIN), in 2019 what was on offer to tourists, the number of visitors and the economic impact of this sector all grew. The turnover produced by the wineries and museums which form part of the Spanish Wine Routes generated an economic impact of over 85 million euros in 2019, 5.68% more than the previous year. Income that escalates to around 260 million euros if other services and agents involved in the Wine Routes are taken into account, such as accommodation, restaurants, shops and activity companies.
In terms of visits, these exceeded 3 million, 3.9% more than in 2018, with an increase in practically all the wineries which form part of this network. The Marco de Jerez Wine and Brandy Route, with over 568,000 visitors, takes first place in terms of visitors during 2019, followed by the Ribera del Duero Wine Route (with 389,000 visitors), in second position, and the Penedès Enoturisme Penedès Wine and Cava Route (with over 370,000 visitors).
August, September and October are the months with the highest influx of wine tourists, although this report shows growth in every month throughout the year, especially in spring and summer. Among the wine tourists in 2019, 74.7% were Spanish and 25.3% foreigners.
To cope with the Covid-19 crisis in the best possible way, ACEVIN has prepared a ‘Guide to reactivate post-COVID wine tourism’, which aims to be help the wine routes and the companies in this sector get back to business.