Pazo is the Galician word for palace. Most of them were built from the 16th to the 19th centuries as the grand country residences of aristocrats. These potentates employed servants to farm their land, rear their livestock and tend their vineyards while they tended to the affairs of state. The presence of a private chapel and a dovecot indicates that it’s a proper pazo and not just a common mansion house.
One such pazo, today converted into a splendid hotel, restaurant and winery, is Pazo de Galegos. Owner Manolo García Gómez truly brims with pride when he tells the fascinating story of its association with the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Built by the erudite author, archeologist and Canon of Compostela Antonio López Ferreiro, the man responsible for the rediscovery in the 19th century of the reliquary containing the long lost remains of St. James, Pazo de Galegos is the perfect place to unwind for a few days in a lovely, peaceful setting.
Its location is unbeatable, only 20 minutes from Santiago de Compostela on the N-525 to Ourense. The densely forested River Ulla Valley is gorgeous with stunning pazos such as the Pazo de Rivadulla and the Pazo de Oca only a few minute’s drive away. A lovely signposted riverside hiking route and a salmon fishing beat complete the idyllic picture.
Manolo’s son Paul García Cebeiro runs the winery side and definitely transmits the same passion as his Dad for the Albariño and aguardientes he makes on the estate. The five hundred year old lagar or wine press in perfect working order is an incredible sight but even more astonishing is the four hundred and fifty year old single vine that creeps over the emparrado or trellis with a total extension of over one hundred and ten metres.
The grapes from this ancient vine go by the name of Cascón which year after year, century after century, produce a spicy, fruity red. Paul is actually toying with the idea of making an exclusive, super limited edition single vine wine from this noble old dame. Form an orderly queue, please.
Last but definitely not least is the restaurant side, expertly run by Manolo’s wife Marina. The tortilla de patatas (spanish omelette) and caldo gallego (substantial broth made of potatoes, white beans and turnip greens), two classic dishes prone to being screwed up or seriously mediocre in so many establishments in Galicia, were simply delicious here. Needless to say, Pazo de Galegos is our base for our Santiago area tours, and a marvellous base it is too.