The discovery of an ancient Roman mosaic that depicted winemaking in Ribera del Duero ensures that winemaking has been a part of the region's history for at least 2,000 years [source: Ribera del Duero]. It wasn't however, until around the 1200s that winemaking really grew into what we would recognize as similar to winemaking today. By then, the region had established regular wine production, even going so far as to have trading, exports and underground cellars. By the 1400s, ordinances and other measures were already being put in place to control the region's wine production, in addition to its trade and taxes.
But it would take more than 500 years for controls regarding quality to be put in place. Designation of Origin, or DO, status was only achieved in 1982 [source: CIV USA]. Prior to this, wine production quality was not controlled in Ribera del Duero, and therefore it suffered. Thanks to the relatively recent success of the Tinto Fino grape, however, Ribera del Duero winemaking has been put on the map.
Today, approximately 112 vineyards or bodegas cultivate a variety of grapes throughout the 7,400-acre (3,000-hectare) area of Ribera del Duero. One of these vineyards has been producing wine continuously for more than a century -- the renowned Vega Sicilia winery has been producing wines since 1864 [source: Di Wine Taste].
Read on to learn how the extreme temperatures of the Ribera del Duero region lead to its fine grapes.