Rioja Wine Heritage

The traces of wine activity in the area's heritage are numerous and extensive, ranging from the rock presses to the Guardaviñas, not forgetting the neighborhoods of wineries and Centennial wineries emerged at the dawn of the development of the sector.


Mini_lagar_rupestreIn the whole of the territory of the Rioja we find many stone cave-rocks, dug in the rock and that are located next to the vineyards. Within the whole area stands out the Sonsierra, which between the towns of San Vicente and Ábalos concentrates almost a hundred specimens.

In these small presses the grape was stepped on and in some cases it was pressed, so the wine was made by the vineyards. The presses had three spaces: one, the largest, in which the grapes were pressed with their feet; In the second lay the Orujos, the impurities, etc.; And in the third, the must was already collected much cleaner. Thus, the farmers who did not have their own winery transport the product to their house to obtain claret wines because for the elaboration of the red wine it is required that the must ferment, introducing the rasp.

There are three types of presses. The exempt ones occupy a block of sandstone without having any relation with others. The associates use the same block of sandstone as a necropolis or a hermitage, for example, but do not interfere with them. Finally, the parasitic presses occupy the same block as another set, taking advantage of the builder the loss of quality of the sacred places, turning it into a winery with which the occupied part disappeared. In some places, such as Zabala, San Andrés and La Tejera, it is common to find the grouped presses.

As noted, in the municipal terms of Ábalos and San Vicente de la Sonsierra have been discovered, in the countryside and near some necropolis of the Sonsierra, dozens of rock presses. In the town of Ábalos we find thirty restored wineries, in perfect condition, with their names such as the Lord's Peñas, San Prudencio, the Arogues, the arenas, Santa Ana, The Bees, St. Mary's, the Gallows, St. Christopher's, the Carronillo, the sunken, the Toba and the Campillo. In San Vicente de la Sonsierra The sixty Lagares are reached, the vast majority of them in the northern area of the municipality, highlighting those near the hermitage of Santa Maria de la Piscina, in the area of the necropolis, and which are known as Zabala , the Canoca and the name of the Hermitage; Also next to another necropolis are those of San Andrés; Near the hermitage of San Bartolomé, in the north of Ribas de Tereo, we find those of Orzales; Not forgetting the Pangua, Cuatro Caminos, San polite, Santa lathe, La Tejera, Peciña, Los Corrales de La Nava, among others.


Guardaviñas (Chozo) DO La Rioja Briones, La RiojaThese elements constitute a sample of the popular architecture Riojano of the end of the XIX century and are constructions of a single plant, usually of circular form and with a false dome like finish and closing, located next to the crops. The Guardaviñas were used to monitor the vineyards, as its name suggests, and to serve as a refuge for farmers in terms of inclement weather.

Most of the guardaviñas that have been preserved are located in La Rioja Alta, especially in the Sonsierra, ashtray and San Asensio. In this last locality, specifically, we find twelve specimens approximately, both circular and square, highlighting the so-called Valdelapila, El Campillo, Valle de las Navarretas and Hut Peral. In some presses of the whole area is preserved engraved its date of construction on the ashlars. In fact, in San Vicente we find one dated in 1868. In total, this locality has seventeen specimens, thirteen of which are of circular plant and four square. They are in good condition, were restored in 2004, and include those of Sacramento, Ombon, stove, the Palomera, the dead, the forest and Pangua. But the most relevant is the shins, whose plant is circular, has an attached chimney and has a second floor used as a bedroom.

The six Guardaviñas restored in 2000 in Ábalos, namely El Prado, Peritwine, El Portillo, La Recilla, Centenarians and Gallocanta, must be reviewed from the rest of the towns. Seven others are preserved in Briones, highlighting the fountain, the Jimeno hut and the Monte hut. Finally, another guardaviñas is located in Briñas.


There are many examples of Riojan family wineries, many of them grouped in the so-called neighborhoods of wineries, characteristic of many localities of the region. These wineries are dug deep in the Earth or in the rock and offer the ideal conditions of temperature, between 13 and 15 degrees, and humidity to the wines. The ventilation cellar chimneys of the wineries give the landscape a very characteristic profile. We can also find open wineries taking advantage of the slopes of the slopes of hills.

These wineries are formed by several compartments. At the top, near the entrance, we find the lake, place where the grape is deposited for fermentation, and have been made digging directly into the rock, ashlar stone or lime, while in other wineries large wooden tubs replace to the lake. Near it can appear the press and in the lower part, dug in the rock, is the draught, where the wooden vats or the cement deposits are located. Next to it are the barrels, carafes and other containers for the racking. Normally, from the depths of the draught to the outside, a conduit emerges, through which the toxic gas is derived from the fermentation processes of the wine. These conduits are called cellar chimneys.

From the second half of the nineteenth century the large wineries began to be dug to contain the Crianza wines, taking advantage of some of them the old draughts, part of them built during the Middle Ages. In fact, there are archaeological remains that show us how in the 15th and 16th century the harvesters dug tunnels until they reached the right conditions of temperature and humidity to store the wines.

One of the most emblematic wineries in La Rioja is San Asensio, also known as the Cave district. It has 300 wineries located in a hill called Cerrillo verbale, being a unique ensemble of the region as they form a kind of town in which the carved stone dug into the rock intersect between them giving rise to passageways between wineries that refer us to Other times. In the locality of ashtray the wineries have been integrated in the urban center since the presses, of great depth, are located under the houses. Similar situation is given in Casalarreina, emphasizing those of this municipality since all the draughts have similar constructive characteristics. Likewise, in the towns of Briones and San Vicente de la Sonsierra, many wineries are located in the inner city, under the houses, being dug in the rock in which the wines are preserved at a perfect temperature, which contributes to the Quality of the wines in the area. For its part, in Ábalos stands out the Bodega Real divisa, which is considered one of the two oldest wineries in Europe and belongs to one of the descendants of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid Campeador.

In Tirgo also houses with terraced winery whose origin dates from the mid-nineteenth century, at the moment of commercial impulse of Rioja, without forgetting the draughts that are kept near the banks of the river heave, a small neighborhood of wineries located in an environment Privileged with the start of the bridge of the locality like Marco.

In Cuzcurrita, on the left bank attached to the village through the medieval bridge, in the so-called Cuesta del Rollo, large caves persist converted into wineries with their respective draughts.

Finally, we cannot fail to point out the relationship between the wineries and the castles in the area. Thus, both the Cuzcurrita and the Sajazarra preserve in its interior its old wineries along with new constructions in which it is proceeded to the elaboration of the wine following modern methods.

Barricas_en_bodegaBut if in the territory there is an emblematic neighborhood this is the neighborhood of the wineries or district of the station in Haro. The history of this district begins in the nineteenth century, century in which many French winegrowers deciderosn to move to Haro fleeing the diseases of the vineyard such as Mildew and phylloxera, which were devastating the vineyards to settle first in the area of the Cuveas and, definitely, in this neighborhood, due to the proximity of the railway station, which allowed them to maintain exchanges with the rest of the areas of the north of the country.

In this way, the growth of this neighborhood began, with the construction of wineries, following the model Borde´les and, in general, according to French guidelines, becoming the largest concentration of centennial wineries in Europe and the world.

The Bodegas de Haro neighborhood has been and continues to be a meeting point for anyone who wants to enjoy the architecture of wine, while the history that keeps every corner of the centennial wineries.

Knowing the secrets of wine making while tasting a good rioja wine is without a doubt one of the best pleasures offered by La Rioja Alta.

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