Monterrei – dominated by its fortified city, – and Verín – land of ancient carnivals – will show us the secrets of the wine of any designation of origin of Galician origin.

We want to have an wine tourism experience in which – besides enjoying wines from the youngest Galician Designation of Origin, the Monterrei – you also feel welcomed by a land of ancient carnivals (entroidos). You will be dazzled by its varied natural landscapes presided over by the always-present fortress city of Monterrei.

More information...
- Vía Arxéntea winery. Teléfono: 687 409 618
- Tapias Mariñán winery. www.tapiasmarinhan.com
- “O retiro do Conde” country house. www.oretirodoconde.com
- Cabreiroá spa. Teléfono: 988 590 015

Day 1

The beauty and grandeur of Monterrei Valley

We suggest you arrive in Monterrei Valley – on the shores of the River Támega – early in the afternoon. We are in the southeastern part of the province of Ourense, near Portugal.

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After leaving our bags at the hotel, we’ll begin this wine tourism adventure exploring the beautiful towns in the valley. The parish of Vilaza, in the municipality of Monterrei, is an excellent starting point due to its proximity to the road connecting to the Rías Baixas Motorway (A-52), which gives the town excellent accessibility without disturbing its tranquil lifestyle.

Pazos converted into country home accommodation

The town retains the architecture of its traditional pazos. Some are used for rural tourism, such as the Pazo de Espada (formerly known as Pazo Blanco-Raxoi), which is accessible only to guests, who can enjoy a well-stocked wine cellar filled with Monterrei Designation of Origin wines. Opposite is the so-called Pazo de Limia; its entrance gate is crowned by a sundial and its main façade features a glassed-in gallery and a characteristic coat-of-arms carved in stone surrounded by baroque decoration.

One of Vilaza’s main peculiarities is its baroque Church of San Salvador. Attached to it is a large tower of older construction called the “Tower of the Templars”.

Visit the mediaeval fortress of Monterrei

Vilaza is constantly under the impetuous gaze of the mediaeval fortress of Monterrei, – the icon of the region, the municipality, the valley and the label of its designation of origin. Its majestic presence exerts a pervasive influence on this land bordering Portugal, whose frontier it has been watching over for 800 years. We’ll use the afternoon to visit this acropolis, the largest in Galicia for many authors.

Arriving from Vilaza to the N-525, we’ll turn left towards Ourense until reaching a turnoff to the right that indicates the Parador de Verín state-owned hotel. From the hotel’s grounds at the foot of the castle, we’ll walk up the hill. This is the best way to take a look at the triple wall and its buildings, built between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries. Firstly, we find the Pilgrims’ Hospital, founded in the fifteenth century. Let’s not forget that this region is the gateway to Galicia from the Plateau and Portugal and an essential reference along the Vía da Prata (the Southeast Way) to Santiago de Compostela.

Next, we’ll walk the streets of the town until we reach the last gate, which we cross through in order to reach the inner ward. From here, we access the Keep, an impressive mass of stone 22 metres high. From it, you can oversee much of the River Támega’s basin, a valley dotted with vineyards, orchards, small villages and a large town, like Verín. You will also find the Ladies’ Tower, smaller and perfectly nestled in the Pazo dos Condes, a Renaissance building with an ornate arch supported by columns. The Church of Santa María completes the complex; on one of its façades is a Christ surrounded by anthropomorphic and mythological figures which will amaze you.

In these surroundings which transport us to another time, it’s not hard for us to imagine the legends surrounding the place that tell of the unfaithful countess who – fearing the wrath of her husband – falls from the tower to the inner ward, known the “green pit”, 14 metres deep.

Although the area outside of the fort is open, if we are interested in accessing the interior of the keep, the Pazo dos Condes and the church, visiting hours are daily from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

And, to eat, octopus á feira-style, cod or traditional stew

After the visit, we can dine in Verín, accompanying the Monterrei DO wines with á feira-style octopus or codfish. The traditional Galician stew (cocido) and all of the products related to the pig slaughter – such as androlla or cachucha – are also a good option. These delicacies are linked to the Entroido (Carnival), here declared an official National Tourist Event, since they are enjoyed with increased delight this time of year.

Day 2

Approaching the art of wine

After a hearty breakfast, in the morning the Monterrei winemakers await us. Since the territory that makes up the designation of origin is relatively small, we’ll have a majority of the wineries of this DO scattered around the Támega Valley at hand.

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If we have chosen our accommodation in Vilaza, we can visit the Vía Arxéntea winery, a family-owned business. Its owner will guide us among the vines and show us the differences between a Treixadura and a Godello, the white varietals most commonly grown in the area. We’ll touch the vines and their leaves and grapes in order to check their texture and hardness. We can be present when the grapes are thinned, pruned or harvested, depending on the time of year. The production process is explained in the winery; we’ll discover how all the aromas of the grapes are captured so that they can be transmitted to the wines before they go through the press. And finally, we’ll sample the wines produced here.

From Vilaza, we’ll go to the town of Pazos in the municipality of Verín, headed to the Tapias Mariñán winery. The winery follows the design of a typical local country house, as is built from granite. The vineyard sits on flat land next to it, with a large mountainous backdrop halfway distant. Walking through the vineyards and tasting the Godello and Treixadura white wines or the red Mencías will take us to midday. Nearby, we’ll find a traditional restaurant that prepares traditional cuisine and whose specialty is grilled meats.

The beauty of the O Invernadeiro Nature Park

After the post-lunch table conversation, we’ll top off our day discovering the O Invernadeiro Nature Park, in Ourense’s central massif, which leaves part of its mark north of Monterrei. This visit has to be authorised in advance, since the land is the property of the Xunta de Galicia.

From Verín, we’ll take county road 114 OU to Laza and, once there, we’ll take the turnoff to Campobecerros. This is the best place to be completely seduced by the natural beauty of this land, in a spot that has always been uninhabited. We’ll find an abundance of holly, rowan and yew in the park. Eagles and hawks soar overhead and we may even spot a vulture. The ground is the dominion of the wolf, wild boar, marten and ermine.

There are five possible guided routes on which we can track roe deer and deer. We suggest you choose the one that leads to the glacial cirque and the lovely Os Arcos waterfall. Inundated with sensations, we head back to the hotel seeking dinner and rest.

Day 3

Walk through Verín

Before leaving, we recommend you take a more relaxed morning walk through the village of Verín, following the course of the River Támega via the riverwalk to Alameda. If you wish to do your final shopping for the trip, you can step into the shopping area.

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Fans of heraldry should not skip what is known as the Casa do Asistente, next to the bridge that crosses the River Támega. The beautiful coat-of-arms on its façade is impressive. This building was built for the Count of Monterrei’s assistant, hence its name. Today it is the headquarters of the Tourism Office and a pilgrim hostel. It also has two large exhibition halls.

A territory rich in medicinal mineral waters

This region is famous for its medicinal mineral waters. Cabreirorá, Sousa and Fontenova are some of its springs, and are currently also prestigious firms that sell their water. If we want to visit them, the most unique is the Cabreiroá spa, one kilometre from the village. It is surrounded by a large area of forest and gardens where you can go for a stroll and where we will see the gazebo for those using the waters. Inside there is a large transparent tank where the water arrives directly from the spring, which occasionally burbles. This is because the waters exit with some degree of natural carbonation, which is what makes them so special. We can try as much as we want from a tap connected to the tank and check its medicinal mineral properties declared for public use in 1906.

 

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