La Rioja, the prestige of a name
This prestigious image that La Rioja has earned has been consolidated among consumers thanks to the vocation of excellence of the wines of said Autonomous Community, making them a reference in terms of quality for Spanish winemaking, but not only with its wines in the most classic style, but also with the unique qualities for aging, which qualifies them as a new generation of innovative wines.
Due to the avant-garde of wine innovation, La Rioja has known how to keep up its boom with a great diversity of wines with different personalities. Thanks to this maintenance, the “Rioja” brand, considered today one of the five most famous among the world’s most prestigious wineries, has achieved great success in the markets and has been placed at the elite of European historical designations of order.
An ancient history
The vine and wine civilization was a reality in the lands of La Rioja more than two thousand years ago, as witnessed by the numerous archaeological remains of wineries and cellars dating from the time of Roman domination. Maintaining this wine culture during the high Middle Ages under the protection of monasteries, it would be in San Millán de la Cogolla where Gonzalo de Berceo, the first poet of the Castilian language, extolled in his verses the virtues of La Rioja wine, whose incipient local trade controls emiliane monasticism. The economic importance that viticulture has had for centuries for the region, being its main crop together with cereal, has its origin when, like other great European wines, they begin to be a market product in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern age In order to meet the growing demand of a population increasingly concentrated in the cities, which required the modernization of the hitherto difficult and controlled wine trade, which increases considerably in those wine areas, such as Rioja, which have increased production very above your self-sufficiency needs. A very significant milestone was the creation in 1787 of the Royal Board of Harvesters, whose objective was to promote the cultivation of the vine, contribute to the improvement of the quality of the wines and facilitate marketing in the northern markets, for which reason his priority dedication was to build and improve roads and bridges to link the Rioja wine-growing towns with Vitoria and the port of Santander.
The Riojan wine tradition begins to acquire a clearly differentiated profile when some seasoned wine men introduce new methods of winemaking and aging and found the cellars today centennial in the second half of the 19th century. If the improvement in the marketing of the Rioja would receive its definitive boost with the arrival of the railway and French buyers due to the phylloxera crisis, illustrious winemakers such as Luciano Murrieta, Camilo Hurtado de Amézaga or Rafael López Heredia, constitute the maximum exponent of the definitive introduction of the modern concept of quality in Rioja wines, with a specialization in the production of quality wines raised in the Medoc style and marketed in the bottle.
Since then Rioja has been a Denomination model in constant process of modernization and adaptation to the demands of the new times, consumption habits and evolution of the markets.
The first Denomination of Origin
La Rioja wines are protected by the oldest Denomination of Origin in Spain. When the modern Rioja was born at the end of the 19th century and the name of a product linked to its origin was endowed with its own identity, the concern of Rioja winemakers and processors arose to protect such identity from “usurpers and counterfeiters”, a concern that culminated with the official recognition on June 6, 1925 of the Rioja Denomination of Origin.
Since 1991 Rioja wines are protected by the first qualified D.O. in Spain. Its Regulations establish the demarcation of the production area, the grape varieties that can be grown, the maximum permitted yields, the production and aging techniques, etc. The Regulatory Council is the public entity in charge of promoting and controlling the quality of the protected wines, promoting their image and defending the interests of the sector, whose representatives make up the Council’s management body.
Today Rioja is one of the Denominations of Origin in the world that offers the best guarantees regarding the quality and authenticity of its wines, and one of the few that requires bottling at origin for all its production. Undoubtedly, the effective application by the Regulatory Council of a much more rigorous regulation of self-control than that of other wine-producing areas has been able to transmit security and confidence to consumers and has been decisive in achieving the leadership position that wines of Rioja occupy in the market.