Madrid is not only the capital of Spain but also one of Europe’s great cultural centers. Tourists flock to Madrid to see its museums and plazas and to enjoy Spain’s famous tapas. Many visitors don’t realize that Madrid has a wine region all its own, the Vinos de Madrid Denomination of Origin (DO).

The Vinos de Madrid DO
If you travel southeast or southwest of Spain’s capital, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Madrid’s wine country. Although Madrid’s wine history goes back to the 13th century, the Vinos de Madrid DO itself is quite young, dating only to 1990.

The Vinos de Madrid DO is best known for young wines, including whites, rosés and reds. Traditional sobremadre wines - red and white wines which are made with the destemmed, pressed grapes as well as their must - are also produced here, as are red and white sparkling wines.

When the DO was established in 1990, only five grape varieties were authorized. Today, five red varieties and seven white varieties are permitted. Malvar is the most widely-grown white variety, followed by airén and albillo. Moscatel de Grano Menudo is grown for use in dessert wines. Garnacha is the most popular red grape variety, with tempranillo (tinto fino) next in line.

Three Sub-Regions, One DO
The DO is divided into three subzones: Arganda, Navalcarnero and San Martín de Valdeiglesias. Arganda, southeast of Madrid, is the largest of the three. San Martín, to the extreme southwest, is the next largest, while Navalcarnero, also in the southwest, is smallest. The distinctive soil types, climates and geography of the subregions influence planting decisions and wine production. While all three subzones share a continental climate, with temperatures ranging from a low of 18 degrees Fahrenheit in winter to a toasty 105 degrees in the summer months, rainfall varies, and frost can present problems.

Look carefully at the labels of Vinos de Madrid wines. You’ll see that some labels include the name of a subregion or even a specific town, while others do not. A winery may include a town’s name on its label if all the grapes used in the wine were grown there and the wine was produced in that town as well. If you don’t see a subregion or town named on the label, the grapes used in that wine were grown in more than one sub-region.

Wine Tourism Near Madrid
If you plan to visit Madrid, consider taking a daytrip to one of the DO’s 44 wineries. Some, like Bodega Jesús Díaz, have regular visiting hours, while others, such as the award-winning Bodega Qubél, prefer that you call ahead. A few wineries, including Bodegas Castejón and Bodega Qubél, offer tours and tastings in English.

Bodegas Pablo Morate in Valdelaguna operates one of the area’s wine museums; there’s another wine museum in Navalcarnero.

Vinos de Madrid in the U.S.
If you live in the United States, you may see more Vinos de Madrid in your local wine shops in the near future. This month, the DO launched a marketing initiative in the U.S., complete with tasting events in New York, Boston and Chicago. High-scoring wines from the Vinos de Madrid DO, such as those produced by Vinos Jeromín and Bodegas Tagonius, are well worth tasting. It’s good to know they’ll be easier to find.