Emporda is a DO (Denominación de Origen) wine region in Catalonia, in the far north-eastern corner of Spain. It borders the southern French region of Roussillon. Emporda was accorded DO status in 1972, when it was known as Empordà-Costa Brava. The idea behind this name was to tie the region to the popular Costa Brava holiday destination. The DO's shortened title – derived from the ancient Greek name for the zone, Emporiae – came into effect in 2006.
Winemaking in Emporda dates back to the 6th Century BC. In the Middle Ages, flourishing vineyards tended by monks and nuns from nearby monasteries and abbeys produced wines that became popular and attracted many settlers to the area. But in the late 19th Century, phylloxera dealt a hefty blow, and many of the affected terraced vineyards have never been replanted.
Emporda's climate is decidedly Mediterranean, which is not surprising, given that the sea hugs its eastern shores. However, the strong Tramontana wind originating from the Pyrenees mountain range in the north has a moderating effect on local growing conditions and prevents disease and frosts. Potential damage from the wind, and the resulting stress, however, is a threat to exposed vines. The Tramontana phenomenon has given rise to the designation's tagline, 'Wines of the Wind'.
The soils here typically have a good lime content and appear reddish-brown. They are loose, providing good drainage for vines.
Traditionally, Emporda specialized in the production of Garnatxa, a heavy, sweet red wine made from sun-dried Garnacha grapes (like the French Vin de Paille across the border). Rosé (rosado) wines based on Carinena (Carignan) and Garnacha are also a local mainstay and have earned a reputation as some of the finest rosés in Spain. However, as in many regions of the country, Emporda has seen the need to modernize its winemaking equipment and styles. A number of small bodegas are cropping up, offering innovative and fresh wine styles, most notably young reds similar to those from neighbouring Roussillon as well as some in a style akin to Beaujolais Nouveau.
White wines are made mostly from Viura (Macabeo) and Garnacha Blanca and are blended or vinified varietally, a more modern approach.
Also recently, local wine growers have realized the importance of adding international grapes to their portfolios, resulting in increased plantings of varieties such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Muscat.