History of Rioja Wine

Vinedos_de_riojaOne of the hallmarks and the most important symbolic element of La Rioja is without a doubt the wine. But not only as a product and economic activity but as a social and cultural reference of a region in which an important part of its festivals and traditions revolve around this product.

Grape Harvest, DO la RiojaBodegas Abel MedozaSan Vicente de la Sonsierra, la RiojaThe wine is already documented in Rioja during the Roman domination period, which found in this territory the ideal conditions for its cultivation and elaboration. In the Middle Ages, characterized in LA Rioja by the development of monastic centers that were cultural references in Europe and of which San Millán de la Cogolla stands out, wine production was linked to monasteries and abbeys, in which they improved the Cultivation techniques. In the 16th century La Rioja was one of the main producing regions, which allowed it to export wine to the rest of Spain and even to Europe. The next two centuries, XVI and XVII, allowed the Rioja to consolidate thanks to the increase of the production and to the implantation of the first measures of control of the quality and of regulation in the elaboration of the wine.

Historia_vino_1But it will be the second half of the nineteenth century that put Rioja in its present position and the dimension that has come to this day. In the middle of the century, phylloxera affects the main European wine regions. The French winemakers, in search of new suppliers with which to satisfy the demand, arrive to La Rioja and implant the method of elaboration Bordelais, consisting in the ageing of the wines, which will be extended to the whole region. Thus, the combination of an outstanding raw material favored by the environmental conditions and the terrain and French techniques of elaboration, Rioja wine achieves a quality hitherto unknown in the region and a universal prestige. The following decades of the nineteenth century will entail the expansion of the vineyard, the creation of some of the most representative wineries in the region and an unprecedented economic growth for these wine-growing areas.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut Phylloxera will also end up affecting La Rioja. It will be at the beginning of the twentieth century when this plague devastates practically the entire vineyard of the region and joins the territory in a deep economic crisis. The only effective measure against the plague was the grafting of American strains, the only ones immune to this parasite since it came from this continent. The recovery was slow, more than two decades, but after this serious setback, Rioja once again took its place of prestige. In 1926 the regulatory Council, the first of Spain, was created with the objectives of delimiting the production area of the Rioja, to control the issue of the sealed of guarantee and to establish the legal measures to protect the Rioja from counterfeiters and usurpers of its Prestige and good name. The regulatory Council, as it is currently structured, complies in 1970 with the approval of the regulation of the appellation of origin and the regulatory Council. Being in the year 1991 when it is given the character of qualified to the denomination of Origin Rioja, one more step in the recognition of the wines of this region.

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