Andalusia is the second-largest wine-growing region located in the sun baked south-west part of Spain, home of the world famous fortified wine and region Sherry. It is also the oldest wine region in Spain dating back to 1,100 BC when the Phoenicians founded the port city of Gadir (today's Cádiz) and started exporting wine. After the Phoenicians came the Romans.
The climate of Andalusia is the hottest in Spain, and it can be divided into three zones including the Sherry on the Atlantic coast which is cooler, the south around Malaga and the Sierras de Malaga with the Mediterranean climate and the comparatively hot and dry conditions around the Montilla-Moriles. The last two zones are related to the production of sweet and heavy wines made from the Muscat and Pedro Ximénez grapes and the cooled zone on the Atlantic to the production of Sherry from Palomino grape. There are five wine-growing areas classified as DO in the region: Condado de Huelva, Jerez, Malaga, Montilla-Moriles and Sierras de Málaga. Of course, the star of them all, is Jerez with its Fino and Manzanilla and other styles of Sherry.
The Airén grape variety is one of the most planted grapes in the north part of the region used mainly for brandies and blended wines. The most notable varietals for red wines are the international Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot which are becoming increasingly popular among the local producers.
The modern days of Andalusia do not seem as bright as the early years. Sherry and the overly sweet wines are slowly going out of fashion and with the birth of Port the popularity of the Sherry and Andalusia has been decreasing. Nowadays, some innovative producers are trying to reach the former glory of the region by producing dry wines that are not sweet, oxidized or fortified.