Day 1

Pieces of mediaeval history

We suggest a route through the region and valley of Valdeorras, shaped by the passage of the River Sil between mountains. The town of O Barco de Valdeorras is a strategic point from which to explore the area. We recommend that you arrive at your chosen accommodation in the early afternoon. The hotel offer is varied, both in the town itself as well as in its parishes.

From the tradition of the pazos to wine therapy treatments

Hotels, houses and pazos retain pieces of the mediaeval history of this city, and hence are worth a visit. This is the case of the Pazo dos Flórez or Pazo do Castro, converted into a hotel. It is located in a place called “Vila do Castro”, five minutes from the centre, in the upper part of O Barco de Valdeorras. This spot offers a wide view of the plain on which this large town sits. In 1630, Don Pedro Quiroga Losada had it built to found his estate, which could subsequently, by law, be inherited exclusively by the first son of each successive generartion.

Its original appearance – different to the rest of the Galician pazos – is eye-catching. We are received by its façade comprising six arches made of local red stone over a large covered porch and its slate roofs, a hallmark of the region, whose economy revolves around its mining. Declared an historical/artistic building together with its chapel, it has been refitted as a four-star monument/hotel. The interior retains its original furniture, decor and artwork. Poke around a bit and you’ll find a palleira (haystack) attached to a small museum of carriages and riding equipment.

If you’ve arrived early, you can take good advantage of your time and add a little afternoon relaxation in the pazo’s spa. Wraps or massages with oils extracted from grapes are some of the wine-therapy treatments that are included in the offer of the wide world of wine and its culture.

The botelo, chestnuts and mushrooms dominate on local menus

For dinner, the options are extensive. When looking at the menu, remember the saying common here: “From the sea, grouper fish; from O Barco, the botelo (a pig-slaughter dish)”. Botelo is a product of a pig slaughter, a real delight for the palate. Other well-known local products include chestnuts – which have a place of honour in current Valdeorras cuisine – along with the great variety of mushrooms from its mountains. The glass will be a perfect fit for either a red Mencia or a white Godello of the Valdeorras Designation of Origin.

Day 2

Visiting wineries in A Rúa

We’ll devote our morning to getting to know the wines of the Valdeorras Designation of Origin, guided by its winemakers in the vineyards themselves.

We’ll drive over to the nearby town of A Rúa, where the largest number of wineries with that designation are located. We’ll take the N-120 and then the turnoff to the town indicated. During the approximately quarter-hour drive, its beauty will unfold before us. The embedded course of the River Sil we had been following widens here and forms the San Martiño reservoir, a highly valuable natural area due to its flora and fauna; inside, it contains several islands.

The winemakers show us the secrets of their wines

There are many wineries that deserve our attention due to their great uniqueness, and so we will use much of the day visiting them and talking with the winemakers about varieties, tilling the vineyard, pruning, harvesting, processing, climate, soil or any other aspect we’d like to know about this land’s ties to wine.

In the morning we can accompany the Alán del Val winemakers to the A Costiña estate, to see the Brancellao varieties facing south on steeply sloped land. Under the slate-rich ground – which facilitates permeability and the absorption of the sun’s heat – the grapes will mature in an ideal fashion. That’s how this winery produces a wine which is exclusive to its plots, with numbered bottles that end up on the tables of the best restaurants.

Later, we’ll descend to the wine cellar/cave called “La Mina”, built in the eighteenth century and restored with all its structural elements intact. This is where the Joaquín Rebolledo winery ages wines naturally, away from noise and at a perfectly constant temperature and humidity. The barrels remain in these underground stone rooms until the winemakers consider it to be the perfect moment for the wines to be released to the market.

The restaurants of A Rúa don‘t neglect local products such as botelo or androlla, rib pie, river eels, roast kid or game meats.

A winery established over an old fortified Roman Iron Age village

After lunch, we climb to Mount A Coroa, where an ancient Roman fort used to sit and where a winery of the same name now does. The owners rebuilt it over a building that was more than 300 years old, using only local materials such as slate, stone, wood and clay.

Our eyes will immediately escape to a small circular building of jagged stone topped by a chimney. This is the air vent used in the cave, hidden under its feet. Here is where the fermentation process of the liquid gold that is Godello takes place. The place’s magic and mystery will increase when you find out that 300 metres north of here the Romans dug into the mountain for gold, and 200 metres to the south, the Via Nova – Roman road number XVIII in the Antonine Itinerary – used to cross; it connected Astorga with the Portuguese city of Braga.

A nature walk

If by the end of the tour with the winemakers it is not yet too late, we suggest you take a walk in the O Aguillón green space, which surrounds the San Martiño reservoir on the entire right side of the River Sil where it passes through A Rúa. It is the perfect place to watch the birds that come to nest here. More than a dozen different duck families have been recorded among them.

When it’s dinner time, if you decide to eat in A Rúa, the pork knuckle is a specialty for which the municipality is wellknown, honouring this dish in an annual food fair.

Day 3

From Romanesque churches to modern wine-making technologies

Before starting your return, you can take one last walk to the Monastery of Xagoaza, – which originally was a priory of the Knights Templar – and the Church of San Miguel, where a Maltese cross carved in stone can be seen at the top.

It takes just over half an hour from the centre of O Barco de Valdeorras to reach this beautiful mediaeval complex dating from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that, after being restored, houses the modern facilities of the Godeval winery, which we can visit. The Romanesque architecture of these buildings and an almost pristine natural environment will transport us to a time past. By contrast, the interior of the winery incorporates the latest technology for producing a varietal Godello wine with the protected designation of origin.