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The Wine of El Camino de Santiago

It is said that the remains of St. James, the Patron Saint of Spain, are buried within the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Since medieval times, pilgrims have traversed El Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James), seeking spiritual enlightenment on the long path to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Although there are many different starting points, at least four in France alone, most routes converge near the city of Pamplona, in the province of Navarra. While most peregrinos have retired to an albergo by nightfall, those who are still walking after sunset will note that the route follows the Via Lactea (Milky Way).

The Feast of Saint James is celebrated throughout all of Spain on July 25th, and El Camino de Santiago was one of three major pilgrimage routes from the 9th to the 16th centuries, when travelers would return home with a scallop shell as proof that they had completed the long trek. The scallop remains an enduring symbol of the camino: It is worn by walkers and cyclists to identify themselves as pilgrims and is used on signposts to point the way west through the wine regions of Navarra, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Rias Baixas.

The route itself was recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site in the 1980’s, and there are many sites others along the way, including the Cathedral of Burgos, the Monasteries of Yuso and Suso in Rioja, and the old town of Santiago de Compostela. Emilio Estevez’ 2010 film The Way brought renewed international attention to the pilgrimage route. His time in northern Spain also inspired Estevez to plant grapes on his California lawn and start a small winery, Casa Dumetz, which he runs with his fiancée Sonja Magdevski.

Each region the route passes through has its own food and wine traditions, so journeyers are certain to be well fed and to enjoy delicious wines during the five weeks it takes to walk the whole route or the two weeks on bicycle.

Here, TLKs top spots to stop, relax, and drink wine, on the journey...

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