Cariñena: Wine and History in the Heart of Aragón

Cariñena's winemaking heritage goes back a long way.  The Romans who built Carae, today's Cariñena, discovered that the local inhabitants mixed wine and mead – a fermented beverage made from honey and water – as early as the third century before Christ.  The Romans continued this winemaking tradition, as they did wherever they settled in western Europe. 

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During the Middle Ages, the monks picked up Cariñena's winemaking torch and greatly expanded the area under cultivation.  Cariñena's wines became known for their quality throughout Spain.   In 1585, King Philip II visited the town of Cariñena; the town's central water fountain ran with wine to celebrate the occasion.  (This event is commemorated at the annual September wine festival, where you can see the fountain dispense wine instead of water.)  By the early 19th century, garnacha wines from Cariñena had a reputation for excellence.  Phylloxera arrived in Cariñena in 1901, but by 1932, the wine industry had recovered well enough for the area to be designated as a DO, Aragón's first. 

Today, the sweet wine producers of former days have been replaced by cooperatives and private bodegas that feature modern facilities and production methods.  While Cariñena isn't yet a top-tier Spanish DO, individual winemakers here are working to create distinctive, top-quality wines, and they are succeeding.

Geography, Soil and Climate
Cariñena lies about 30 miles southwest of Zaragosa, the provincial capital.  Most of the DO's vineyards spread outward on the Campo de Cariñena (Cariñena Plain) and the surrounding foothills.  Soils vary, but most fall into one of three categories: limestone over rock, slate, or alluvial soils.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

Extreme temperatures and low rainfall are the hallmarks of Cariñena's continental climate.  Temperatures can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months and may sink to below 20 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter.  Low rainfall, hail and the cierzo wind, which blows cold, dry air down from the north, challenge local growers' skills.