Situated in northwestern Spain, Castilla y Léon is the largest autonomía (autonomous region) in the country. Castilla y León is known for its traditional beauty, plentiful fortifications, and historical importance. This area was dubbed the Kingdom of Castles due to hundreds of forts, castles, and patrolled walls defining the landscape. Castilla y León has been home to princes, noblemen, intellectuals, artists, and brilliant military minds since the Romans constructed the famed Segovian Aqueduct. The oldest university in Europe has held classes in Salamanca since 1134 (Universidad de Salamanca) and the Duero River (Douro in Portugal) has been a perennial causeway to transport goods. By maintaining a foothold in the united kingdoms of Castilla and León, Ferdinand and Isabella successfully finished their Reconquista of Spain in 1492.
Today, Castilla y León may be better-known for its traditional Spanish culture, as it is nestled in Spain’s heart both geographically and emotionally. This area proves to be making its mark in the world of fine wine, as the 20th century saw an astronomical increase in production. The late-1990s craze for Ribera del Duero (a DO of Castilla y León) helped all of the region’s wine-producing areas to gain international notoriety.
A visit to Castilla y Léon is defined by its vast and awe-inspiring ruins. The landscape is filled with Romanesque monasteries and churches, Medieval battlements, and fortress-mansions of the nobility known as hidalgos, or free men. As a major historical pilgrimage destination, Castilla y Léon is deeply rooted in religion, whose visual culture is ubiquitous.
Due to the long, cold winters in Castilla y Léon, soups and stews are an important part of the local cuisine. Chickpeas are a staple, and blood sausage and roasts play a recurring role.
Castilla y León has a Continental climate, slightly moderated by its proximity to the Atlantic and Mediterranean but still subject to extreme heat and cold. Rainfall is moderate to low, and the Duero River flows westward through the region.
The region has six Denominaciones de Origen (DOs): Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro, Bierzo, Arribes, and Tierra de León. Castilian wines are symbolic of traditional Spanish taste; they tend to be powerful, full-bodied, and fruit-forward with a hint of oak. Wines like these pair well with the regions varied sausages, which range from spicy chorizo to savory farinato.
Castilla y León is primarily regarded for its red wines, particularly from DO Ribera del Duero, which are dominated by the Tempranillo grape. White wines from the area, notably those made of Verdejo in the DO Rueda, are also gaining popularity.