Ribeira Sacra is made up of the banks of the river Sil in the North of Ourense province and of the river Miño in the South of Lugo province. The Ourense slope belongs to the municipalities of A Peroxa, A Teixeira, Castro Caldelas, Esgos, Montederramo, Nogueira de Ramuín, Parada de Sil e Xunqueira de Espadañedo. The Lugo slope belongs to the municipalities of Bóveda, Carballedo, Chantada, Monforte de Lemos, Pantón, Paradela, A Pobra de Brollón, Portomarín, Quiroga, Ribas de Sil, O Saviñao, Sober y Taboada. A total of 2569,28 km² where 63533 people live.
The foundational document of the monastery of Montederramo, which was dated in Allariz on 21 August 1124, constitutes the first written sample of the term Ribeira Sacra. In the above mentioned text, Mrs Teresa de Portugal, daughter of Alfonso VI, sings: “From the sea ocean up to the river Bibei, which flows through Trives and Valdeorras, donates to Arnaldo and his descendants, they are in the present and they will be in the future, the place called “Rovoyra Sacrata”, placed in Montederramo, territory of Caldelas”. Due to these words the Ribeira Sacra term has been associated with the big quantity of monasteries and small temples hidden in the remotes places in the Sil and Miño Canyon.
Recent studies of Manuel Vidán Torreira show that Rovoyra Sacrata term comes from the term of reboiro (oak). Of this study we can deduce the big importance of the oak inside natural environment, as well as a symbol of fortitude and prosperity for the monastic culture.
A monastic culture has left trace in this land. This way is testified by numerous monasteries and small Romanesque churches that appeared in Ribeira Sacra; an asset declaration which is considered to be the principal Romanesque in the countryside of Europe concentration.
Examples of this art are monasteries as Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil (Nogueira de Ramuín), Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil (Parada de Sil), or Santa María de Montederramo (Montederramo), among others, as well as spectacular small temples like San Paio de Diomondi (O Saviñao), Santo Estevo de Atán (Pantón), San Miguel de Eiré (Pantón), or San Fiz de Cangas (Pantón). The modern age has left an importance trace in the Ribeira Sacra heritage as Padres Escolapios College in Monforte de Lemos that it is known as “the Galician Escorial”. In the Padres Escolapios College there are two pictures by the Greco.
Ribeira Sacra constitutes the best kept secret inside Galicia. It appears majestic with its natural and biological treasures making up a rich ecosystem. The fanciful natural forms that it origins in this land creates a way of extraordinary attraction and unusual beauty. Deep valleys have been worked by the rivers Sil and Miño in the hard granite rock turning Ribeira Sacra into an authentic vertical plane. Sil slope proves to be rockier reaching up to 500 metres altitude at some points. Miño slope appears more smoothly and this slope is worked by human. The spectacular landscape of Sil Canyon announces us the river Sil passing through the mountains. In the Sil Canyon there are a lot of views to admire a superb nature. Also, we can admire the Canyon from into the river: the catamaran trips introduce us in the canyon.
Monforte de Lemos is considered the capital of Ribeira Sacra by its neuralgic situation, as well as its history. It is, in Monforte de Lemos, where we find the head office of Regulatory Council of the Wine Ribeira Sacra. This entity works on the denomination of origin, which is supported under the parameters of the wine quality. Certainly, the D.O. Ribeira Sacra has contributed to the position of the destination doing that Ribeira Sacra knows each other beyond our borders. Our wine has smoothly texture and it combines exceptional with the Galician typical gastronomy. Due to the climate conditions and of the soil, the Ribeira Sacra wine proceeds in 90% of red grapes, of which, 85% is mencía variety. The remaining percentage belongs to vineyards of white grapes, specially godello, albariño and treixadura variety. The Regulatory Council of the Wine Ribeira Sacra was provided with a whole of 89 wine wineries last year 2014. Among all the wineries they add 1258 hectares of vineyards, of which they have obtained a harvest of almost five million kilos of grape and more three million litres of wine were bottled. A few surprising and admirable information if we bear in mind that in Ribeira Sacra there are small and family wineries.
Vineyards continue the vertical axis of the hillsides of the canyon, arranging the vineyards into a complex “socalcos” system, already well-known and worked by Romans: that is the heroic wine-growing.
The Romans had full appreciation for these wines, fruity and smooth, ideal to combine meals.
The D.O. Ribeira Sacra is constituted in 1996 and aims at protecting, promoting and guaranteeing its wines. The D.O. is distributed in five subareas: Amandi, Chantada, Quiroga-Bibei, Ribas de Sil and Ribas de Miño. Professionalizing the wine sector of this area has been managed with the creation of D.O., as well as the recovery and support of the vineyards shaping a peculiar scenery worked by human activities.
The wine constitutes one of the principal economic driving forces of Ribeira Sacra. The wine attracts many tourist and visitors to our territory, thanks to the quality and the personality of our wines. Undoubtedly, the wine is an essential factor to consolidate Ribeira Sacra as a tourist destination.
Route of the wine Ribeira Sacra
The Route of the wine Ribeira Sacra is a good option to cover and to know D.O. Ribeira Sacra. A territory shaped by scored of town councils and delimitated by two big rivers: Sil and Miño, the fluvial parents of a landscape defined by vineyards in hillsides of the canyon.
The Route of the wine Ribeira Sacra shapes one of the principal tourist attractions for the lovers of the enology and the nature. The route consists of a visit to the vineyards, where the visitor can see a hard work of the Ribeira Sacra winegrower, as well as visits the wineries which will offer them a taste of the wine Ribeira Sacra. Nevertheless, the Route of the wine Ribeira Sacra involves much more: there are museums and centres of interpretation, there are hotels and restaurants; finally, a set of different establishments concerning the wine which tries to get the visitor imbued with the wine culture of the area.
Certainly, a magnificent option to cover the vineyards of this young Denomination of origin: the summer receives us with its best green ones, with the grapes on the vineyards; the autumn gives us wonderful reddish tonal colours and also, the grapes harvest. During the winter you can see vineyards alone and the springtime makes the green sheets of the vineyards to burst out.
Heritage of humanity Plan
The Ribeira Sacra Consortium together with the participation and collaboration of the delegation of Lugo and Ourense, as well as 21 town councils that shape Ribeira Sacra, are working on the candidature to declare Ribeira Sacra Heritage of humanity. It is a laborious project at which it is necessary to be employed in the long-term. Firstly, we have to overcome the approval of the Spanish Government so that it promotes the above mentioned declaration at the Committee of Heritage of the Humanity of the Unesco.
We think that declaration as Heritage of Humanity will be the definitive impulse that Ribeira Sacra needs to consolidate the destination. Certainly, this declaration would suppose a quantifiable progress in the tourist potential and an economic impulse for Ribeira Sacra.