In the Ribeira Sacra, the cradle of Galician monastic life, we’ll be astonished at the vineyards arranged across nearly vertical terraces and the steep canyons, a sign of identity of these beautiful localities.
Tasting these wines, losing your sight in an abyss of water or taking shelter in genuine Romanesque gems – the cradle of Galician monasticism – are part of this destination designed to flood the senses.
The Ribeira Sacra, in Galicia’s interior, is like a heart pumping life through the Rivers Miño and Sil. They both created a landscape of steep canyons mixed with native forests and Mediterranean species as a result of their special microclimate. The grapevine – grown here on slopes that seemingly defy gravity – is particularly grateful for it.
More information... - Centro de Interpretación do Viño da Ribeira Sacra. Teléfono: 982 105 303 - www.centrovino-ribeirasacra.com - Doade Yacht Club. Teléfono: 982 260 196
This lookout point offers a spectacular view over the city. Very close and without leaving the area inside the wall, you can tour its mediaeval borough. A large Jewish community settled here, and traces of it are evident on Zapaterías, Falagueira and Pescaderías Streets and – outside the walled area – in the Praza de España square.
A visit to the “do Viño da Ribeira Sacra” Interpretation Centre
We recommend you visit the “do Viño da Ribeira Sacra” Interpretation Centre. In this historic building, the secrets of winemaking and of the local varieties – of which there are more than 90 – will be revealed to us. And its shops offer them all, along with a selection of other Galician and Spanish wines. Its modern exhibition space, equipped with audiovisual resources, photographs, sculptures and paintings, shows the extraordinary uniqueness and natural, artistic, climatalogical and scenic wealth of the Ribeira Sacra. This is an overview that will prepare us for absorbing the intense feelings these places will arouse in us the next day.
We’ll bid farewell to the complex in its tapas bar. Here, we can delight our palate with some Mencía and allow ourselves us be tempted by the touch of signature plates featuring Galician products of the highest quality and presented as creative tapas. We’ll then return to our road to the hotel, where we’ll enjoy dinner.
There are two options for exploration: one in the depths of the canyon, on the waters of the Sil, and the other a bird’s eye view. Equally captivating and exciting, we don’t have to miss either, if we get properly organised. We can do both from Doade, in the municipality of Sober, about 13 kilometres from Monforte de Lemos via the LU-903 road.
One of the catamarans navigating the River Sil for two hours will depart by mid-morning. The landscape that rises above our eyes will leave us agape. Soutos (chestnut groves), carballeiras (oak groves) as well as Mediterranean species like the olive tree seem to be scaling the sides of the gorges, staining them with an incredible range of red, yellow and green during the autumn.
After the river trip, it’s a sure bet you’ve got an appetite and a desire to sample some of the Ribeira Sacra DO wines made from these grapes, almost all of which are of the Mencía variety. A lunchtime, it’s inevitably that the wine be put on an equal footing with the cuisine. One recommended alternative is to visit Sober wineries, which offer an excellent restaurant service, with the added incentive of enjoying the buildings of traditional rural architecture in the area. Not surprisingly, the Ribeira Sacra was the setting chosen by the first country house accommodation opened in Galicia.
The meaning of “heroic viticulture”
After our post-lunch chat, we’ll be ready for new experiences, like a ride on the tourist train departing Doade. We’ll spend a couple of hours winding through the surroundings over asphalt tracks that will carry us soaring through the canyons. Stopping at strategic viewpoints such as the one in Amandi – famous for its wine fair, recognised as an Official Tourist Event in Galicia – is obligatory. From here, we will be amazed as we see the grapevines growing on almost-vertical earthen banks, and then comprehend the meaning of the expression “heroic viticulture”.
To settle our emotions, the tour includes a stop at a large winery where we can sample their wines as we learn more about the production of the Ribeira Sacra Designation of Origin. Back to Doade, it’s time to retrace our steps to Monforte de Lemos to have a rest in the hotel. Before, however, we can enjoy some tapas in the city, a deeply rooted local custom.
Concentrated in a few square metres are many valuable surprises: from two works by El Greco in the important gallery in the College of the Piarists, – known as the “Galician Escorial” – to one of the most important collections of religious art existing in Spain, in the Convent of the Poor Clares Mothers.
Stretching our legs on the central boardwalk along the River Cabe is another option to fill us with energy before our return trip. We are likely to find small boats for rowing its calm waters; canoeists and fishermen will add colour to the scenery.