The Rias of Legend: Five Growing Areas
Rías Baixas is Galician for “Lower Rias,” and refers to four estuaries – Ría de Muros y Noia, the Ría de Arousa, the Ría de Pontevedra, and the Ría de Vigo – located on the southwestern coast of Galicia, Spain. The Rías Baixas are arms of the sea that mix fresh and salt water to sustain perhaps the world’s richest maritime life – and also contribute to the distinctive geography of the region.
From north to south DO Rías Baixas encompasses five distinct sub-regions:
Ribeira do Ulla:
The newest Rías Baixas sub-region, this area was registered in 2000 and is composed mostly of alluvial soil. It is located inland, just southeast of Santiago de Compostela, and east of Padrón, a town famous for fried green peppers, a popular tapa.
Val do Salnés:
Val do Salnés is known as the birthplace of the Albariño grape. Located on the Atlantic coast, it surrounds the historic town of Cambados. This is the original and oldest sub-region with the most area under vine and the highest concentration of wineries. The soil is granitic and rocky with alluvial top-soil. It is also the coolest and wettest sub-region with an average temperature of just 55º F.
Nestled in the hills at the head of the Rías de Vigo, it is the smallest of the sub-regions and was registered in 1996. Soils are light and sandy over granite bedrock.
Condado do Tea:
“The County of Tea” is named after the river Tea, a tributary of the Miño River. Located in a fairly mountainous area along the Miño, this is the second largest sub-region. The most inland, it is a warmer, drier area, with an average temperature of 59º F that can soar to 104º F during the summer. Soils contain granite and slate.
Also lying along the Miño River where it joins the Atlantic Ocean, this sub-region forms the border with Portugal. With granite bedrock and alluvial topsoil, the vineyards are terraced along the sides of the Miño. The fishing village of A Guarda offers a picturesque setting to enjoy the foods and wines of the region.