From the summits which separate Galicia from Castilla y León, to the southeast of the province of Ourense, heading inland on the highway of the Rías Baixas A-52, we penetrate into the Monterrei Wine Route, the first Galician route entering in from Castilian lands. We surround the majestic Central Massif of Ourense, where the winters dye the mountains white, and the disappearance of slate roof announce to us that we have reached Galicia. The Monterrei Denominación de Origen —Denomination of Origin – DO— is made up of 988 acres of vineyard divided into two subareas perfectly delimited by its orography: Valley of Monterrei and Hillside of Monterrei. Its municipalities, Castrelo do Val, Monterrei, Oímbra, Riós, Verín and Vilardevós, contain at present some 330 vine growers and 25 wineries inscribed in before mentioned DO. There our traveller will find wineries crowning spectacular lookouts in the mountain and others on the valley floor.
Sharing the border with neighbouring Portugal, in which history has left us the legacy of the Acropolis of Monterrei; medieval fortress, scene of some of the important events which shaped this land. Whose inhabitants decided to leave in recent history the interior of the citadel to con- struct the modern villages that are today dotted about the region.
Spectacular scenery crowned to the north by the sierras of Pena Trevinca, O Invernadeiro and San Mamede. Fertile ground heavy with water, in which rivers born in the mountains flow, leaving behind them small cascades in search of the valley, feeding numerous mineral-rich springs which today constitute incomparable natural resources.
The first fragments of the Duero basin, whose tributary, the Támega, furrows the territory from north to south with its waters, to penetrate the land onwards and into Portugal. Towards here we see the vineyards of Monterrei scattered throughout the mountain sides. A young DO in a millennial territory, with a long tradition, testified by the statue of the God Dionisos, found in Castro de Muradela, 6 kilometres from Verín, which today sleeps in the Museo Arqueolóxico de Ourense —Archaeological Museum of Ourense—.
Not to be missed
Through Monterrei passes the pilgrims route to Santiago known as the “Vía da Prata” —Route of the Silver—. Here the walker will find the hostel Casa do Escudo de Verín, open all year round. The Castelo —Castle— de Monterrei —XIIIth and XVIIth centuries— is one of the most impor- tant examples of historical-artistic heritage. Here we find, within the for- tifications, a perfectly preserved architectonic ensemble: the ancient town, the towers Torre da Homenaxe and Torre das Damas, an inner ward, a gothic church, the extramural quarter and the triple rampart. A pure evocation of the history and legend of medieval times.
Also in the old quarter of Verín one can visit Rúa —street— Viriato, Casa —house— dos Acevedo, Plaza —square— Cigarrón and the Convento –convent– dos Padres Mercedarios. At about 4 kilometres from Verín is the pre-roman church of Mixós —s. X—, in the municipality of Monterrei; the Capela —chapel— dos Remedios and its beautiful surroundings, and the Parque Natural —nature reserve— do Invernadeiro, in Vilariño de Conso. Also of interest to the visitor is a network of footpaths or rutas, the most outstanding of which are: A Ruta O Lagar da Moura, Ruta do Pazo do Demo, Ruta do Támega and A Ruta das Augas, this last passing by several mineral-medicinal springs and spas such as Sousas e Fontenova, Requeixo, Fonte do Sapo, Caldeliñas and others.
In winter, among the best known fiestas in the region are the Entroido —carnivals, mid January-February— wherein ancient pagan rites fuse with modern day religious/popular festivities. In Verín, the character of Cigarrón presides over a particularly exuberant Entroido. The more youth-orientated Batucada starts at the end of July; a summer party with music tents.
The best way to get to this route is by road.
– From the Centre of Spain comes the Highway of the Rías Baixas A- 52. Then the visitor will have to take road OU-310 towards the town of Verín.
– From Portugal, the best way to enter this Route is by the town of Chaves, at 28 kilometres from Verín. Here you can take the A-24 highway, join the Spanish A-71 highway and then join again the national road N-532 that leads to this town.
– Santiago de Compostela: 168 km/1 h. 43 min.
– Vigo: 159 km/1 h. 48 min.