The abundance of native grape varieties fostered an early start to viticulture with evidence of grape pips dating back to the Tertiary period.Archaeologists believe that these grapes were first cultivated sometime between 40 BC, long before the wine-growing culture of the Phoenicians founded the trading post of Cádiz around 1100 BC.Under Roman rule, Spanish wine was widely exported and traded throughout the Roman empire.
While the Moors were Muslim and subjected to Islamic dietary laws that forbid the use of alcohol, the Moorish rulers held an ambiguous stance on wine and winemaking during their rule.
Several caliphs and emirs owned vineyards and drank wine.
While there were laws written that outlawed the sale of wine, it was included on lists of items that were subject to taxation in Moorish territories.
This is due, in part, to the very low yields and wide spacing of the old vines planted on the dry, infertile soil found in many Spanish wine regions.
The country is ninth in worldwide consumptions with Spaniards drinking, on average, 21.6 litres (5.706 US gal) per person a year.
The country has an abundance of native grape varieties, with over 400 varieties planted throughout Spain though 80 percent of the country's wine production is from only 20 grapes—including the reds Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell; the whites Albariño from Galicia, Palomino, Airen, and Macabeo; and the three cava grapes Parellada, Xarel·lo, and Macabeo.Major Spanish wine regions include the Rioja and Ribera del Duero, which are known for their Tempranillo production; Valdepeñas, drunk by Unamuno and Hemingway, known for high quality tempranillo at low prices; Jerez, the home of the fortified wine Sherry; Rías Baixas in the northwest region of Galicia that is known for its white wines made from Albariño and Catalonia which includes the Cava and still wine producing regions of the Penedès as well the Priorat region.During this period more Spanish wine was exported into Gaul than Italian wine, with amphorae being found in ruins of Roman settlements in Normandy, the Loire Valley, Brittany, Provence and Bordeaux.Spanish wine was also provided to Roman soldiers guarding border settlements in Britain and the Limes Germanicus in Germania.The quality of Spanish wine during Roman times was varied, with Pliny the Elder and Martial noting the high quality associated with some wines from Terraconensis while Ovid notes that one popular Spanish wine sold in Rome, known as Saguntum, was merely good for getting your mistress drunk. Following the decline of the Roman Empire, Spain was invaded by various barbaric tribes-including the Suebi and the Visigoths.Little is known about progress of viticulture and winemaking during this period but there is evidence that some viable form of wine industry was present when the Moors conquered the land during the early 8th century AD.