The first name you’ll hear when researching Valencian wines is Utiel-Requena. This is the largest wine region in Valencia, with most of the local economy focused on grape-growing, and it’s easily the best known label. The area has a long and proud tradition, known to have been a winemaking region as far back the 7th century.
The name comes from the two towns of Utiel and Requena, around which you can find a high concentration of vineyards. Many of them offer private guided tours and tastings, while wine tasting day trips exploring the area are popular. These can be organised through various tour operators in Valencia. It’s quite far from the city, some 80 km (50 miles) inland.
If you only have time to visit one wine region while in Valencia, this is a good pick. The dreamy mountainous landscape, dotted with wineries and medieval villages, makes touring the area completely unforgettable.
The towns of Utiel and Requena themselves are also worth a stop. Both are small, picturesque, walkable places with medieval architecture and, as you might expect, plenty of wine bars.
Wines with the Valencia D.O. title are made in the fertile patches of land between the huerta, or market gardens surrounding the city, and the impressive mountain ranges that border the region. Exploring one or more of the several small regions producing wines with the Valencia D.O. is a great way to get out and see the region’s stunning countryside. If you can hire a car this makes a great independent road trip, or alternatively you can book a tour with specialist guides.
This spot is one of the regions producing wines under the Valencia D.O. some 72 km (45 miles) northeast of the city. You’ll find this region is perfectly suited to the production of dry white wines thanks to its climate and location. As the name implies, this is a high (alto) and cool area on the banks of the Turia river.
Moscatel de Valencia
Travel further down the Turia valley to find the wineries making the region’s sweet Moscatel de Valencia wine. Slightly lower in altitude than Alto Turia, this area around the towns of Montroy and Montserrat is ideal for growing the Moscatel de Alejandra grape variety.
A smaller area, Clarino lies about 65km (40 miles) to the southwest of Valencia city, and dovetails with the northern edge of the Alicante D.O. zone; meaty reds made from Monastrell, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the specialty here.
Alicante, at the southern end of the Valencia region, is a little better known for winemaking. It has been a huge wine producing region for centuries, with its wine in demand both locally and abroad. But its reputation hasn’t always been great, especially among serious connoisseurs.
Thankfully these days things are changing. A handful of enterprising Alicante vineyards producing more elegant reds have pushed up overall standards, as other local winemakers scramble to keep up. This new focus on quality over quantity is gaining the area new respect.
The main grape varieties grown here are Monastrell, Alicante Bouschet, Bobal and Moscatel de Alejandria, though you can also find everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot and Tempranillo among the region’s vines.
The most famous traditional wine is the sweet Fondillon, made here since the 17th century using the best overripe Monastrell grapes, matured for a decade.
It’s a large area with plenty of variety, and thanks to the amount of tourism in the region there’s no shortage of tour guides organising wine-tasting tours of the region.
If you’re venturing a little further south, make a stop in the Yecla wine region sitting inland in north-eastern. A small region centering on the town of Yecla, it’s known for rich, fruity reds made from the Monastrell grape. Unofficially, locals split the region into two parts based on altitude. Wines from the higher Campo Arriba are generally more highly regarded than those from the lower part, Campo Abajo. A visit to the vineyards here is a popular day trip from Alicante.