This week we travel to the interior of Galicia, where the river Sil meanders at the bottom of steep slopes delimiting the provinces of Ourense and Lugo. We are in the Sil Canyons, an area that is part of the Natura 2000 Network and the Biosphere Reserve “Ribeira Sacra and Serras do Oribio and Courel”, the seventh of these areas in Galicia.

The Sil Canyons have great geological values (this area was already emerged while the rest of the peninsula was under the sea more than 200 million years ago) and its abrupt orography has conditioned the climate and the diversity of environments and species.

On the north-facing slopes, with an Atlantic-continental climate, thick forests of chestnut, oak and pine trees grow. The south-facing slopes, as well as the upper plateaus, have a more Mediterranean climate that allows the development of species such as cork oaks, holm oaks, strawberry trees, lavender and hazelnut trees and favours the possibility of cultivating vineyards. These vine groves, cultivated on terraces (here called “socalcos”) and in areas with slopes of up to 50% make it clear why this difficult and artisanal way of working these vineyards is called “heroic viticulture”.

Due to the large number of monasteries (mostly Romanesque and Benedictine) that settled here, this area has been known as Ribeira Sacra since the Middle Ages. In short, nature, incredible landscapes, viticulture and a lot of historical and cultural heritage are the ingredients of these steep slopes called Cañones del Sil, which today we will visit from the heights.

Today we travel to the Sil Canyons to meet Roberto and Lara. Their love for this land, its landscape and its culture led them to settle here a decade ago, to make their dream come true: to set up a winery. In this protected area of steep slopes on the banks of the river Sil, belonging to the so-called Ribeira Sacra, every September they harvest the grapes by hand on terraces with a gradient of up to 40%. This is known as heroic viticulture and is part of the cultural heritage that has led this area to become part of a new Biosphere Reserve in Galicia: Ribeira Sacra and Serras do Oribio and Caurel. Join us to discover with them this corner of hillsides, forests and vineyards where the river Sil meanders between the provinces of Ourense and Lugo.