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Denominaciones de Origen (designations of origin) of Spanish wines

Is a Vino de Pago better than a wine with a designation of origin? Why are some regions Denominación de Origen and others Vino de la Tierra? Everything you wanted to know and didn't dare to ask about the designations of origin of the wines of Spain.

What is a wine with designation of origin?

A wine with denomination or designations of origin is a wine with a guarantee seal that certifies that it has been produced entirely in a specific wine region and that the whole process has been carried out according to specific and officially regulated quality criteria.

What is a Consejo Regulador? 

In Spain, the name Consejo Regulador is given to the management bodies of each of the designations of origin, which are responsible for regulating, controlling and guaranteeing the quality of their products, as well as promoting and defending them. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is the competent public authority in this country, supported by the different Comunidades Autónomas (counties or regions) and in accordance with European legislation.

How many quality levels are there according to European legislation?

EU Regulation 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishes two quality levels, common to all member countries. These are wines with protected designation of origin (DOP) and wines with protected geographical indication (IGP).

What are the differences between a DOP and a IGP?

Both DOPs and IGPs are geographical areas defined by their uniqueness. However, in the case of DOP wines, the link between the wine and the natural (soil, climate and varieties) and human (culture and tradition) factors of the place is much stronger than for IGP wines. Moreover, wines with a DOP carry out all stages of their production in the defined geographical area, whereas wines with a geographical indication may only carry out one of the stages in the defined geographical area.

How many quality levels are there among Spanish appellations?

In Spain, the following three categories are protected designations of origin::

  • denominación de origen calificada (DOCa)

  • denominación de origen (DO)

  • vino de calidad con indicación geográfica (VC)

plus the category of Vino de Pago (VP), an exceptional category, assigned to a single producer, with a very limited area and annual production.

The IGP designation for Spanish wines corresponds to that of Vinos de la Tierra (VT)

Is a Vino de Pago better than a wine from an appellation of origin?

Neither better nor worse. Nor is it better or worse, in absolute terms, a wine from a qualified designation of origin, such as Rioja or Priorat wines, compared to another wine with the mention of Vino de la Tierra (local wine). These categories are protected designations of origin with a greater or lesser level of exigency when it comes to defining their limits and characteristics. The final result of the product, whether it is better or worse, depends on many other factors.

What is the oldest designation of origin in Spain?

Rioja is the oldest designation of origin in Spain. It was officially recognised in 1925 and ratified in the Wine Statute of 1932, together with other designations, most of which are still in force, such as Alella, Alicante, Cariñena, Conca de Barberà, Condado de Huelva, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda, La Mancha, Málaga, Montilla-Moriles, Navarra, Penedès, Priorat, Ribeiro, Rioja, Rueda, Tarragona, Toro, Utiel-Requena, Valdepeñas and Valencia.

Rioja was elevated to the category of qualified designation of origin in 1991, a status it only shares with the Catalan Priorat. 

Which is the largest appellation?

Which is the largest appellation?

The DO La Mancha, with nearly two hundred municipalities and an extension of more than 150,000 hectares of vineyards, 236 wineries and 14,169 registered winegrowers (2020 data). It is known as the winery of Europe.

How many designations of origin are there in Spain?

Spain has 70 appellations of origin (two of which are qualified), 7 quality wines (VC) and 20 single vineyard wines (Vinos de Pago).

How many qualified designations of origin are there in Spain?

There are 2: the DOCa Rioja and the DOQ Priorat.


Map of the appellations of origin of Spain

Map of the appellations of origin of Spain

Which are the most important Spanish appellations?

Rioja is undoubtedly the most prestigious appellation at international level, but there is no doubt about the historical value and uniqueness of Jerez wines. The main red wine appellations are Ribera del Duero, Priorat and Rioja itself, while Rueda and Rías Baixas stand out in whites, without forgetting the Penedès, a region of reds and whites but known above all for its sparkling wines with DO Cava. 


The list of appellations

Supra-autonomic (3)

Also IGP VT Ribera del Queiles

Andalucía (8)

Plus 16 IGP: VT Altiplano de Sierra Nevada, VT Bailén, VT Cádiz, VT Córdoba, VT Cumbres del Guadalfeo, VT Desierto de Almería, VT Laderas del Genil, VT Laujar-Alpujarra, VT Los Palacios, VT Norte de Almería, VT Rivera del Andarax, VT Sierra Norte de Sevilla, VT Sierra Sur de Jaén, VT Sierras de las Estancias y los Filabres, VT Torreperogil, VT Villaviciosa de Córdoba

Aragón (5)

Plus 5 IGP: VT Bajo Aragón, VT Ribera del Gállego - Cinco Villas, VT Ribera del Jiloca, VT Valdejalón, VT Valle del Cinca

Asturias (1)

Canarias (11)


2 IGP: VT Costa de Cantabria, VT Liébana

Castilla - La Mancha (20)

Plus 1 IGP: VT Castilla

Castilla y León (14)

Plus 1 IGP: VT Castilla y León

Cataluña (11)

Extremadura (1)

Plus 1 IGP: VT Extremadura

Galicia (5)

Plus 4 IGP: VT Barbanza e Iria, VT Betanzos, VT Ribeiras do Morrazo, VT Val do Miño - Ourense

Islas Baleares (2)

Plus 6 IGP: VT Formentera, VT Ibiza, VT Illes Balears, VT Illa de Menorca, VT Mallorca, VT Serra de Tramuntana - Costa Nord

La Rioja

1 IGP: VT Valles de Sadacia

Madrid (1)

Murcia (2)

Plus 2 IGP: VT Campo de Cartagena, VT Murcia

Navarra (5)

Plus 1 IGP: VT 3 Riberas

País Vasco (3)

Comunidad Valenciana (7)

Plus 1 IGP: VT Castelló