Monterrei is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) (Denominación de Orixe in Galician) for wines located in the southeast corner of the Ourense province in (Galicia, Spain). It covers the municipalities of Verín, Monterrei, Oimbra and Castrelo do Val.
It is believed that it was the ancient Romans who first introduced grape growing and wine making in this region. The wines from Monterrei were renowned during the Middle Ages. As Federico Justo Méndez stated in his book Brotes de Raíces Históricas: “The wines from the Monterrei valley, due to their excellent quality, were on a par with the wines from Porto, and for a time were sold all over Latin America”.
Exports increased during the reign of Philip II, especially as the 5th Count of Monterrei was nominated viceroy to the new Spanish colonies in the New World. It was around this time that the city of Monterrey in Mexico was founded.
In modern times, most of the wine produces is still sold in bulk, but pioneering wineries have started to bottle and market their own brands.
The vines grow on the sides of the valleys around the river Tâmega. The main town is Verín. The vineyards are at an altitude that varies between 400 and 450 m above sea level.
There are two different sub-zones: Val de Monterrei (Monterrei Valley) and Ladeira de Monterrei (Monterrei slopes). The vines cover an area of about 3000 hectares, even though not all of them are covered by the DO.
The fertile, clayey soils, humid climate, high vine density and the yield of the local grape varieties means that wine production is high.
Monterrei is the warmest and driest area in Galicia, sharing some climatic characteristics with the Spanish central plain. The Sierra de Larouca range produces a rain shadow effect in the area. Besides, summers are long and sometimes dry, sometimes with a daily temperature range sometimes as wide as 30 degrees Celsius. Temperatures can fall below 0 °C in winter. Average annual rainfall is about 700 mm and the influence of the Atlantic produces cold autumns.
In Monterrei DO there is a mixture of local and regional grape varieties. White grape varieties are dominant, especially Doña blanca, Treixadura, Verdello, Caíño blanco and Godello. Of the small proportion of red grapes, the most common is Arauxa (the local name for Tempranillo), Mencía and Bastardo.
As most vineyards have been planted recently, they are on trellises (en espaldera) so as to maximize their exposure to the sun.