1. All aboard

Ruta del Vino – An unforgettable experience.

Many regions in Spain offer tourists the opportunity to follow a Ruta del Vino but only one will transport you through an extreme environment of jaw-dropping beauty.

Not all Rutas del Vino, or wine routes, are the same. Some are self-guided tours going from one winery to the next; others provide you with a guide. Some take you through vineyards and others to places of interest; but they all have one thing in common: promoting Spanish wine.

Here in Galicia there are many such routes, one of which you will never forget. The route begins in the tiny village of Doade, high above the canyon of the river Sil in the province of Lugo.

Guests are invited to board the road-going tourist train Aba Sacra. During the summer season it’s advisable to book. Tickets are available online and depending on the time of year, cost from 12 to 14 euros for a standard ticket (concessionary tickets are available).

The bright-yellow train looks a little out of place as it departs the village. The road from Doade hugs the contours of the canyon as it descends towards the river. About halfway down it reaches the Soutochao outcrop. The train slows to walking pace before veering sharply to the right. From here, a narrow track falls steeply, twisting and turning as it winds its way through lush vineyards. The train’s carriages clunk together as the driver slowly and skilfully makes his way down the valley.

Within a hundred metres the track levels off and the train begins its long and winding ascent along the valley. Every so often the driver brings the train to a halt. Guests are encouraged to wander along the track and wonder at the landscape.

The scenery is spectacular. Hundreds of metres below is the river Sil, gently meandering its way through the canyon. From there, row upon row of grapevines cling to the side of the canyon on narrow terraces or bancadas. Above are more vines, climbing towards the sky like a stairway to heaven.

So inaccessible are these vineyards that until recently all the harvested grapes were carried up and down the canyon by hand. Nowadays, the crates of grapes are lowered or raised on steel tracks: an idea borrowed from the Rhine valley in Germany.

On its return to Doade, the train stops outside the restaurant A Cantina. The driver collects a plate of rosca (bread-like cake) and cheese, before driving to the Regina Viarum winery. After a guided tour, guests are invited to sample the delicious mencia red wine and nibble on rosca and local cheese. The perfect end to an unforgettable Ruta del Vino.

Copyright © 2014 Craig Briggs

Craig and Melanie own and operate a luxury farmhouse rental property called Campo Verde. To find out more about a stay at Campo Verde and Galicia in general, visit our website getaway-galicia

Craig’s book, Journey To A Dream, is available exclusively from Amazon, to purchase your copy click here for your national Amazon store.

Find out more about Craig, and Galicia or look him up on Facebook

Part of the This Is Spain Network. Operated by Costa Insider SL.