Driving from inland Spain – for example, from the Ribera del Duero, which is fairly central – one gets an idea of how isolated Galicia is. Up and over the mountains which have captured a large part of the rainfall which never gets to fall on central Spain and down towards the coast. That rainfall has changed a touch, arid landscape into a much more lush, green, utterly Atlantic countryside. With much more water to deal with, vines become confined to river valleys, as if they were in Germany and then, finally, to small rain-sheltered areas by the mouths of the rivers – these are the Rias Baixas.
Hanging from head-high pergolas, the Albariño grapes ripen away from the damp soil, turning from lurid green to golden orbs. There are two major factors which affect the growing of Albariño in the Rias Baixas region; one is the climate, where the higher rainfall leads to the use of high trellising, to keep the grapes away from humidity, which encourages rot. The second is the social history of the region, which means that there are thousands of tiny little plots as the land was constantly divided up, generation after generation. These small and complex productions are one of the reasons why albariño is the most expensive grape to produce in Spain.