La Rioja Wine
Many people come all the way to La Rioja just for
one reason - wine. For the people of this region wine is everything.
Wine is a key part of their history: It is known that the technique
of cultivating wine comes from the Mediterranean. The Romans are
amongst the first to produce wine in La Rioja. When the Romans
leave, local monks start making wine and it becomes an essential
part of the local diet. From the 10th until the 15th century,
wine is a commodity to be traded at the markets and wine becomes
even more valued in the region. Rioja wine is officially recognised
at the beginning of the 12th century by Sancho, King of Navarra.
We have to wait until 1560 when wine cellar owners set up a regulation
of Rioja wine by creating a distinguished logotype. In the 17th
century there is a tremendous increase in new vineyards in the
region. This leads to regulation of the planting of vineyards.
In 1787, the Royal Economic Society of Rioja Winegrowers is established
to encourage the cultivation of vineyards, their production and
commercial development by exporting wine via the ports on the
La Rioja has an important link with wine regions from the South of France. Winemakers start copying the French method of ageing wine in oak barrels. This is the time when important wine cellars are established. In 1926 The Control Board is decreed. Its mission is to establish the land boundaries of Rioja wine, and to recommend the legal measures that have to be taken against usurpers. We have to wait until 1953 for The Control Board to become official. This is when The Control Board begins to create the base of the modern Rioja wine cellars. Nowadays, the wine sector is one of the most important, if not the most important in the region.
As we mentioned before, La Rioja has different geographic areas, with different climates and different soil, which, of course, influence the ultimate result of the grapes and, eventually, the wine. The different types of wine regions are:
La Rioja Alta, where wine is normally full-bodied with high acidity and medium alcohol content. This type of wine is suitable for ageing in barrels.
La Rioja Baja, where wine normally has high alcohol content and rosés are also produced.
La Rioja Alavesa, where red wine normally has average alcohol content, high acidity, and is as good drunk young, as well as aged in barrels.
On our trip we cycle through many yineyards, specially in La Rioja Alavesa where we will visit two wine cellars. One of the highlights of the trip is receiving a Wine Tasting Diploma taught by a specialist on oenology, who will show us the important aspects of the art of tasting wine. And last but not least, every day, Rioja wine will accompany lunch and dinner.
La Rioja guide