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Aug 28 2016

The Somontano Wine Route: at The Foot of The Mountains

The essence of the Somontano Wine Route is summed up in the words that greet visitors on the route’s official website: “At the foot of the Pyrenees, a careful selection of bodegas and tourist establishments have formed an alliance to guarantee an unforgettable holiday in this land of wine and magic…”. Very close to the majestic mountain range, to the east of the city of Huesca, lies DO Somontano, a region in which wine and its culture have impregnated the daily routine and shaped its inhabitants lifestyles since time immemorial

 

Managed by the Somontano Tourist Agency, this Wine Route allows visitors to venture deep into a land which, in addition to its unprecedented natural beauty, also offers a wide range of first-rate artistic and cultural heritage. Cave paintings, dolmens, Medieval towns, Romanesque chapels, Gothic churches, Baroque temples, ancient fortifications, fiestas, ‘romería’ pilgrimages, and legends, as well as museums and interactive centres, complement the region’s vineyards, bodegas, excellent wine and fine cuisine. All of which is perfectly organised with the aim of enhancing the enjoyment and comfort of every visitor who is at liberty to discover the Route at their own pace, or let themselves be guided on the Somontano Wine Bus, which leaves Zaragoza and Huesca on the third Saturday of every month to travel the route following a unique itinerary every tour. 

Barbastro, a perfect starting point

The San Julián Complex is a natural starting point. Located in Barbastro, the region’s capital, this emblematic group of buildings, made up of the old hospital and the Renaissance Church of San Julián, houses the Tourist Information Centre, DO Somontano’s headquarters, a ‘Wine Space’, a shop selling local produce and a restaurant. The Somontano Interactive Centre is located close by where visitors can obtain information about all the region’s tourist attractions and resources. In addition, the ‘Wine Space’, via audiovisual presentations and a cutting-edge tasting room, introduces visitors directly to the wine culture predominate in the Aragón region.

Since its creation in 1984, DO Somontano has endeavoured to put the wines from the Alto Aragón region on the map, via its strong commitment to quality and innovation based on wines made from native and international grape varieties (8 reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Moristel, Garnacha Tinta, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Parraleta); and 7 whites: Chardonnay, Macabeo, Gewürztraminer, Garnacha Blanca, Alcañón, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling). Almost 4,100 hectares of vineyards, plus 500 viticulturists, 30 bodegas and more than a hundred brand names are the raison d’être of an appellation which sells a quarter of its total production on international markets. 

In Somontano the vines enjoy exceptional conditions: planted at an altitude of 350 to 750 metres above sea-level, they are subject to dramatic temperature changes and a privileged climate, halfway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, strongly influenced by the Pyrenees. The end result gives rise to a series of very singular red wines; fruity with a good balance between alcohol and acidity. The rosés boast vibrant colour, delicate aroma and smooth taste. The whites are famous for their fruitiness and delicate varietal aromas. Over its 30-year track record, DO Somontano has convincing earned its excellent reputation with flying colours.

A journey from the past to the future, from the field to the wine tasting

While all wineries included in the Route offer visitors activities of all kinds, some are notable for their uniqueness. The Otto Bestué family has been engaged to viticulture since 1640, and the visit to this winery is a travel to the past. In contrast, Enate is a modern winery, with a functional architecture in which the only curved lines are those of the barrels, and where the light invades all facilities. Viñas del Vero is located in an old, typical state, where all kinds of activities related to the wine world take place; but its crown jewel is Bodega Blecua, a beautiful 19th century house with traces of the 11th century, where its flagship wine ages in an amazing barrel room. 

Bodega Pirineos offers visitors the possibility of fully participate in the production process, from the arrival of the grapes to wine tasting, in guided tours. In a similar way, Bodegas Sers allows visitors a complete immersion in the works of the field and the cellar. And in Bodegas Lalanne, originally from Bordeaux, you can visit a museum full of ancient artifacts, tools and agricultural machinery. 

The architectural gem of the area, as far as bodegas are concerned, is undoubtedly Sommos The building stands out for its unique shapes – which fit perfectly into the environment – ,for the bioclimatic design and for the absence of pumping stations.

Every season is good for a Somontano retreat

As regards the Route itself, it is important to bear in mind that wine tourism is not only about visiting bodegas.Without an important culture background behind it there would be no wine route; and although the bodegas and their wines are the central theme, cultural heritage, landscape, cuisine and local customs are all innate elements of a comprehensive and innovative tourism offer. 

One of the Somontano Wine Route’s most distinctive characteristics, thanks to its privileged environment, is that it appeals to visitors throughout every season of the year. Routes on mountain bike and canyoning go together with hiking and skiing in winter, and sailing activities in summer. 

There are several must-see outings for all who visit the Somontano region. Taking a walk down the narrow streets of Alquézar, a Medieval town declared a Site of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, is highly recommended in order to see its ‘Plaza Mayor’ and its magnificent Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor; a former Muslim fortress and now a National Monument. Barbastro, Somontano’s capital since its foundation in the 9th century, is today a town which offers a comprehensive and varied range of services in addition to its wealth of historic heritage, being the ‘Catedral de la Asunción’ – a 16th century cathedral – its most important feature.

The Sierra y los Cañones de Guara Natural Park is an absolute delight for nature lovers. A paradise for adventure sports, this sierra also hosts a wide variety of flora and fauna. 

The Río Vero Cultural Park is a space teeming with history in the very heart of nature. Created in 2001 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Park hosts numerous examples of prehistoric cave paintings in styles ranging from Palaeolithic art, Levantine Art and Schematic art. 

Without a shadow of a doubt, the most important time of the year in the region is marked by the Somontano Wine Festival, which has been celebrated since 2000 in Barbastro on the first weekend in August. Over the course of four magical evenings wines and tapas come together with the very best in music and dance, attested in previous editions by the participation of some of the best Spanish performers. And if you don’t want to be worried about driving, on the third Saturday of every month, a wine bus will take you to discover the secrets of the zone and wineries.

Managed by the Somontano Tourist Agency, this Wine Route allows visitors to venture deep into a land which, in addition to its unprecedented natural beauty, also offers a wide range of first-rate artistic and cultural heritage Wines from Spain/©ICEX
The Somontano Wines
The Somontano Wines
The Somontano Wines
The Somontano Wines
The Somontano Wines
The Somontano Wines
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