Airén is a white wine grape varietal native to Spain - where it represents about a third of the total planted vineyard area. Due to its high sugar levels and large yields, it is estimated that 30% of its production is dedicated to the production of local Brandy. In 2004, Airen was the world's most grown grape varietal in terms of planted surface area, although it is almost exclusively found planted in Spain's wine areas.
Since Airen vines tend to be planted at a low density ratio, several other varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are now planted more in terms of the number of planted vines. Plantations of Airen are declining as it is being replaced in Spanish vineyards with various red varietals such as Tempranillo.

 

The first recorded use of the name Airén was in 1615, as in the 15th century it was known as Lairén - (as it is still known today in the Córdoba region). Airen is allowed in the following D.O. wine areas: Alicante, Bullas, Jumilla, La Mancha, Valdepeñas and Vinos de Madrid.
Primarily planted in La Mancha and Valdepeñas wine regions, Airen is not only able to withstand the vast and severe temperatures in these regions, but this light skinned grape can also withstand long droughts.
Like most varetals in Spain, Airen vines are typically grown and trained into a bush 'goblet' shape. This ancient method of vine training does not involve wires or posts, but rather careful pruning. The trunk of the vine is kept quite short, whereby forming a gnarled growth of old wood at the top of the trunk from years of the new branches that grow from the crown. These vines resemble a small bush, and may also be described as 'bush vines'.
Airén doesn't seem to be grown anywhere else but Spain - and in Spain only grown in the arid plains of La Mancha. Airen traditionally produced base wines for Spain's renowned Brandy industry and other unique, local white wines. However, recently using stainless steel tanks and temperature controlled fermentation and improved vinification practices; Airén has been used to create simple refreshing, crisp dry wines ideal for early enjoyment.