Spain trails only France and Italy in the amount of wine it produces, and its rich viticultural history predates them both, starting around 1100 BC when the wine-making Phoenicians established the trading post of Cádiz in what's now southwestern Spain. Carthaginian and Roman occupiers later expanded the trade in the country.
Spanish geography plays an important role in the country's winemaking. Several of Spain's major rivers flow from a vast plateau in central Spain called the Meseta Central, carving out the valleys that harbor Spain's top wine regions. These rivers include the Ebro, which runs through Spain's famous Rioja wine region, and the Duero, which flows through the Ribera Del Duero region. Mountains also serve to protect many of these regions from rain and harsh weather coming off the surrounding coasts.
There are at least 400 grapes planted in Spain, though about 80% of its wines come from a selection of about 20 grapes, the most important of which are Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache), Monastrell (Mourvèdre) and Albariño.