Considering a wine tour for your next holiday, but not sure where to go? La Rioja region in northern Spain is a beautiful wine country bordered by soaring green mountains, and with a rich and fascinating history. You can take a leisurely tour of La Rioja’s vineyards and wine cellars with Rioja in Style, so now’s your chance to find out more about this secret gem of a region.
Where is Rioja?
La Rioja is an area in the north of Spain covered with vineyards between two green mountain ranges: the Sierra de Cantabria in the north and the Sierra de la Demanda in the south. (You might also have heard of the regions with the same name in Argentina and in Colorado in the USA!). La Rioja is an autonomous community and a province. Its capital is Logroño, and other major cities and towns in the province include Calahorra, Arnedo, Alfaro, Haro, Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Nájera. The region has a population of around 322,415.
Why is La Rioja good for a wine tour?
Vineyards pepper the lush Ebro valley. They surround the old town of Haro where the summer festival features the Batalla de Vino (wine battle), which as the name suggests is a lot of fun and leaves a lot of spilt wine..! Local bodegas (wineries or vineyards) range from tiny, traditional cellars to major commercial producers.
Where does the name Rioja come from?
The name Rioja comes from the Rio Oja (Oja River) which flows into the Ebro, the main river which flows from the west to the east of our region in Spain.
How do you pronounce Rioja?
In Spanish we pronounce it: Ree-oh-ha. Try it!
Tell me more about the history of La Rioja region in Spain
Rioja is an old land with a rich and sometimes cruel history of wars of thrones. Far in the past, the administration borders were changed many times, the region saw Roman and Muslim conquests, the medieval powerful families’ wars for territory (such as the Kingdom of Pamplona, the Kingdom of Castile), and the Napoleon conquest.
In more recent times, the 1953 Constitution of the Control Board of Rioja DO (Designation of Origin) identified the area of Rioja wine and its rules. The Control Board divides the Rioja wine region into three administrative areas:
- Rioja Alta including the territory of La Rioja (Upper Ebro river area)
- Rioja Baja including the territory of La Rioja (Lower Ebro river area) and Navarra
- Rioja Alavesa including the territory of Alava (Basque Country’s province).