The Ribeira Sacra Designation of Origin was constituted in 1996 with a view to protecting the origin of its wines, guaranteeing their quality and promoting them. This designation includes five subzones: subzone of Amandi, subzone of Chantada, subzone of Quiroga-Bibei, subzone of Ribeiras do Miño and subzone of Ribeiras do Sil.
Through the creation of the Ribeira Sacra Designation of Origin, the industry was professionalised and boosted, the vineyards on terraces were restored and the wine-producing character of the landscape was revived. Every year, all of this results in a unique wine with a marked personality.
An Atlantic climate with Mediterranean tendencies, the thermoregulatory role played by the rivers, the slaty and schistose or granitic soils, the terrace layout (which improves soil drainage) and well-isolated hillsides are some of the key factors that determine the quality of the grapes and the distinct personality of Ribeira Sacra wines. The wines protected under this designation are produced solely from grapes of the following varieties, among which native varieties prevail:
The types of wine protected under the Ribeira Sacra Designation of Origin are classified as Ribeira Sacra and/or Ribeira Sacra Summum. Ribeira Sacra wines are those red wines produced with a minimum of 70% preferential red varieties. Ribeira Sacra Summum wines are wines produced with a minimum of 85% preferential varieties; for red wines, the Mencía variety constitutes at least 60% of the total.
Under this designation, the wines may mention the term Barrica (barrel) if they meet the following conditions:
The arrangement of the vineyards on terraces to overcome the gradient of the land, which may reach 100%, prevents the mechanisation of the works, with the exception of the odd lane in certain vineyards which is used for transferring boxes during harvest time. These conditions of the land make the work on the stocks particularly difficult and force viticulturists and wine producers to defy vertigo from the terraces, which makes the Ribeira Sacra one of the greatest archetypes of what is known as ‘heroic viticulture’. This term makes reference to viticulture under complex conditions. Heroic viticulture vineyards must show permanent structural difficulties, including:
In 2011, CERVIM, an international body in charge of promoting and disseminating mountain viticulture or heroic viticulture, introduced a specific seal that defines this type of viticulture and that only a few designations of origin in Spain (Ribeira Sacra among them) are authorised to use. The Aosta International Mountain Wine Competition is the most important meeting point for the designations of origin associated with this kind of viticulture which are members of CERVIM, and the results obtained by Ribeira Sacra wines are often very satisfactory.
As one of the main economic engines of the area and the element that serves to promote A Ribeira Sacra as a tourist destination, there are several fairs dedicated to wine. One of the most popular, best-attended ones is the Amandi Wine Fair, recognised as Fiesta of Tourist Interest of Galicia, which is held in Sober on the weekend of Palm Sunday.
The Chantada Wine Fair, which opens the season, is a must. The Pantón Wine Fair is also an important reference for wine producers and audiences. The most traditional event, which is held on the first weekend of May, is the Vilachá de Salvadur Wine Tasting. The wine tasting takes place inside hundred-year-old stone wineries, which are also the venue for meals and musical performances. The good reception of the activities linked to the exaltation of wine has resulted in new proposals in other municipalities, such as the A Peroxa Wine Fiesta, the Castro Caldelas Wine Fair and the Belesar Wine Fair.