The tourist office in Santiago De Compostela recommended that if we had a chance, be sure to visit the town of Cambados, “It is the center of wine activity in the Rias Baixas.” We packed our bags and left our Parador in Pontevedra heading towards Cambados for a day trip before heading south towards Madrid. It turned out to be a great recommendation. Our day in Cambados was very fun and exciting. However, if you are not a wine lover, the trip might not be that much interesting.
Cambados in Rias Baixas
Cambados is on the Altantic Coast and it is a beautiful ride as we followed the coastline from Pontevedra to Cambados. Everything is green in the area, the hills, the fields, and the vineyards; we are in Green Spain. As we approached the town, we took a couple of side roads and spotted workers harvesting the grapes. Picking grapes in the Rias Baixas is so different from that of the Napa Valley or anywhere in California wine country. First of all the pace is slow. In California the workers literally run with their cartons and toss the grapes into a one-ton bin and then rush back to fill their carton again and again. Here, the workers have one bin that they fill and then leave on the ground. The bins are picked up later, placed on palates, and brought to the winery on small trucks.
The grape harvesters in Abarino do not rush, but carefully cut each grape cluster. Here in Rias Baixas and as far as we know unique to this area, the grape pickers do not have to stoop. All the clusters are above them. All the vines are trained so that they are high off the ground. This is soggy and wet wine country and this trellis system protects the grapes from rot.
We drive by a winery, Bodega Martin Coax. The crush is at fever pitch at this winery. Trucks arrive with palettes of grapes that are then positioned on conveyer belts where the bins are dumped and sent to equipment for de-stemming and crushing.
A woman probably in her 70’s pulled up in a small truck with a palette of grapes. I asked if I could take her picture. She was so proud of the grapes. Her faced filled with joy as she picked up the grapes to show us. “Here,”she said in Spanish, “taste them, they have no chemicals, they are sweet and delicious.”
The town is a wine town, not like St. Helena, etc., but one with its own character. There are many vinotecas, or wine shops, seemingly out of the same mold. Displays of wine, wine carrying cases, and much more, all the same, all about Albarino wine. If you happen to visit Santiago De Compostela, consider a side trip for a day or night in this wonderful area that loves wine.