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Sun-drenched, steep slate slopes, warm Mediterranean breezes, and air filled with the aromas of sage, rosemary, and oregano - Priorat Wine Region is a paradise for visitors, and most importantly, for wine grapes. Priorat wine is famous for its deep, bold characteristics, with flavors of ripe red cherries, black stone fruits, and rich baking spices.  Its iconic terraced landscape is dotted with old bush vines of the most well-known Priorat grapes - Garnacha and Carinena.

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Vineyards Priorat Wine Region

Where is Priorat Located?

Priorat lies in the north east of Spain, just north of the Mediterranean coastal city of Tarragona.  It is a remote, rural region south west of Barcelona in the Spanish province of Catalonia. The Priorat wines region has a rugged landscape, nestled in the foothills of the Montsant Mountains.  On a clear day, it is possible to see the Pyrenees mountains from the vineyard hilltops.

Catalonia, or Catalunya, is a fantastic viticultural region.  Northeast of Priorat, closer to Barcelona, lies the wine region of Penedes, famous for its cava production. The neighboring wine region of Montsant forms a near circle around the Priorat wine region.  The Montsant wine region is so close to the Priorat wine region that technically they are in the same county, or, comarca, also named Priorat.

Priorat Wine Map

Priorat Wine Map

History of Priorat Wine Region

The name Priorat comes from the word “priors.” The priors were Carthusian monks who began to develop viticulture in the area in the 12th Century.

Legend has it that the monks were looking for a place to settle when they came upon a shepherd. He pointed toward a nearby pine tree. It was a miraculous tree, he explained. One day, a stairway to heaven had opened from the top of that tree. The monks took this as a sign from God, and chose this place to build the Escaladei (stairway to God) monastery.

In fact, the symbol for the Priorat D.O.C.a is the original symbol of the monastery, a depiction of this stairway, or ladder, to heaven, surrounded by angels and grapes. For the DOCa, the ladder has been adapted to contain twelve sticks, representing the twelve villages in Priorat wine region: Poboleda, Bellmunt del Priorat, el Lloar, la Morera de Montsant, Gratallops, Porrera, Scala Dei, la Vilella Baixa Torroja del Priorat, and la Vilella Alta, and the areas of Solanes del Molar and Masos de Falset.

Over the years, the monks refined the art of viticulture in the region, developing the “costers,” or, terraces, still used in Priorat to this day. The wines produced in the region were of such excellent quality that pre-phylloxera it was one of the most important wine regions in Spain. However, in the 1800s the destruction caused by phylloxera was followed by several wars and the impact of the industrial revolutions. Priorat vineyards fell into disuse.

Fortunately, in the 1950s, small farmers began to recover the ancient grapes. In the 1980s the region underwent a renaissance with the influence of a small group of iconic winemakers. On July 9, 2006 Priorat became the second Spanish wine region to be awarded the highest possible classification of D.O.C.a. (Qualified Designation of Origin).

Unique Terroir of Priorat

Priorat’s iconic mediterranean landscape, terraced hillsides, and old bush vines dotted around small villages all represent the heritage and prestige of the region’s terroir.

The Montsant mountain range which is just North of Priorat provides more than just natural beauty. It gives protection from winds. It gives each vineyard plot varying altitudes and exposures. The steep slopes in Prorat led to the development of “costers,” or terraces, following the contours of the land. These make mechanization in the vineyard very difficult, and the majority of pruning and harvesting must be performed by hand.

Priorat Landscapes

Priorat wine region gets over 4,300 hours of sunlight per year. The characteristic mica in the soils reflects this light, sparkling in the sun. Its warm Mediterranean climate offers long, hot dry summers with limited rainfall, confined mostly only to the winter months.

The llicorella soil, which is a key part of the Priorat terroir, plays a crucial role in the production of wines. This Priorat soil, llicorella, is a blend of slate, shale, and mica. It is a dark red copper color, similar to licorice, its namesake. This Priorat soil type has very low organic matter and is extremely frail, facturing easily. This allows the vines to grow deeply, from five to ten meters underground, where the soil retains water throughout the year even in this arid climate. This soil also holds heat, which is crucial for the region’s most characteristic varietals, Cariñena and Garnacha, to ripen properly.

What to Expect from Priorat Wines?

The warm, dry, Mediterranean climate, poor soils, steep slopes, and old vines all lead to very compact, small, flavour-intense Priorat wine grapes. In some Priorat vineyards, the yields can be as low as ten hectoliters per hectare! These low yields, however, result in some of the most recognizable, high-quality, premium Priorat wines in Spain.

Priorat wines have gained the classification of D.O.C.a. - the highest possible wine classification in Spain. This elite classification is shared with only one other region in the whole nation - la Rioja. The two main grapes of the region are Garnacha and Cariñena.
Garnacha, or Garnatxa, or Grenache is known for its high alcohol, full-body, and soft tannins. It also contributes notes of red fruit - raspberry, strawberry, red cherry - and spice - cinnamon and white pepper. Cariñena or Carginan, is famous for its deep color, high tannin, and high acidity. It brings notes of black fruits such as blackberry, black plum, and bramble to the blend, along with chocolate and spice.

Some producers are also beginning to plant and utilize more international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

Another trademark of wines from the Priorat wine region is the use of new, French oak barrels. This gives the wine additional fullness and spice character.

Food to Pair with Priorat Wine

Pa amb tomàquet

Pa amb Toquet - Literally translated, this means “bread and tomato,” a traditional Catalan food. In local restaurants, a waiter will offer freshly toasted bread with a plate containing a whole tomato, some cloves of garlic, and olive oil. Diners first cut a garlic clove in half and rub it on the toast. Then, a tomato is cut in half and rubbed on the bread. Finally, the toast is drizzled with local extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Visit Priorat to taste this local delicacy in situ. Or replicate this dish at home to pair with a special Priorat wine tasting.


From December to March each year, the air in the Priorat wine region is filled with the smoky smell of barbeques. It is a local tradition to create a small fire from the pruned vine wood and throw a gastronomic party, or, Calçotada. Apart from the Priorat wine tasting, the stars of the gathering are the Calçots, a type of local leek, which are grilled until the outside is charred, then dipped in Romesco sauce. The smoky, umami-rich flavor of the grilled leeks can easily stand up to the powerful intensity of a red Priorat wine.

Grilled Meats

After finishing the Calçots, the true feast begins with a barbecue of assorted grilled meats. Chorizo, butifarra, a local sausage, and beef steaks are traditional accompaniments. These full-flavored meats all pair exceedingly well with the depth and complexity of a top-quality Priorat wine.

Places to Visit in Priorat


With its two beaches, Mediterranean climate, and ancient Roman architecture, Tarragona is a top destination in Catalonia. The Part Alta, or Old Town, contains remnants of the Circ Roma, an ancient Roman horse racing track. Along the coast, just in front of the beach, t’s possible to visit a particularly well preserved Roman amphitheater, among many stunning Roman architectural relics.

Tarragona Catalonia


Siurana is famous for two things, other than wine. Rock climbing and olive oil. Perfect for adventure travelers and gastronomic travelers alike, Siurana is worth a visit for its breathtaking vistas of the Priorat region. Visit the stone cliffs of Siurana for one of the most stunning sunset views in the world.

Escaladei Monastery

This is where the wine region was originally founded by the Carthusian monks. Tour the ancient ruins and learn about the history of the Carthusian order. These monks valued solitude and silence and spent most of their days alone. Each monk had his own quarters and garden where he could silently reflect on God’s work. Visit the restored monk’s quarters, ancient dining halls, and gardens.

Interesting Facts about Priorat

Visit Priorat to discover more than just Priorat grapes. The rural region is famous for many other agricultural products.

  • Hazelnuts and Almonds - Priorat was famous for hazelnuts before it was famous for wine! Hazelnut trees can often be found scattered throughout the vineyards.
  • Arbequilla Olives - These are small green olives that make delicious oil and snacks.
  • Mushrooms - Mushroom hunting is a Catalan national hobby. Throughout the autumn, families traverse the hillsides and forests with special baskets for carrying their “bolets,” or mushrooms. Local restaurants often make special dishes featuring these regional delicacies.

Frequently Asked Questions about Priorat

What grapes are used in Priorat wine? 

Priorat wines are predominantly made from a blend of Garnacha and Cariñena grapes.  However, some of the most famous Priorat wines, for example, L”Ermita from Alvaro Palacios, are made from 100% Garnacha.  In addition to these native varieties, Priorat has also begun to grow several international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.  There is also a limited production of Priorat white wines made mostly from Garnacha Blanca and Macabeu.

Where is priorat wine region?

Priorat wine region is located in the province of Catalonia in the North East of Spain near the Mediterranean Sea.  Priorat is found south west of Barcelona, directly North of the coastal city of Tarragona.  The wine region is nestled to the South of the Montsant Mountain range, within sight of the Pyrenees mountains.

When did Priorat become a DOCa?

Priorat was the second Spanish wine region to become a D.O.C.a. (Qualified Designation of Origin) on July 6, 2009.

When to drink Priorat wine?

Priorat wines are famous for their depth, power, and intensity.  For this reason, it is best to drink Priorat wines with a flavorful meal.  If conducting a wine tasting, Priorat wines should be poured near the end of the tasting, so that their flavors don’t overpower other wines.  Priorat can be drunk year round, but may be most enjoyed in autumn and winter when our palates crave bolder flavors.

What does Priorat taste like?

The aromas of a Priorat wine are filled with red and black fruits and spice. Some say you can even taste the llicorella soil and Mediterranean herbs of the Priorat terroir. The wine is known for its powerful concentration, full tannins, balanced acidity, and smooth, long finish.

Map of Wineries in Priorat

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Just getting started on your wine journey, or jumping back in?
Taste through a selection of a great local wines.

Wineries in Priorat