Ultimate Guide to the La Rioja Wine Region

La Rioja Wine Region History and Culture

Like many regions in Spain, La Rioja has been home to many groups of people over the centuries. The Phoenicians, Carthagians and the Moors all made their way to La Rioja. But the most notable group was the Romans. The Romans started wineries throughout the region, and many of these wineries have withstood the test of time [source: Cellar Tours].

After the Roman Empire collapsed, the Moors did little to keep the La Rioja wine tradition going. But when Spain became its own country in 1512, winemaking was reborn. During this time, Benedictine monks began cultivating the land and developing numerous wines [source: Cellar Tours]. Slowly but surely, Spanish viticulture was making its mark on the world.

In the 1870s, a phylloxera infestation essentially wiped out vineyards in France. Vintners from Bordeaux decided to move to La Rioja to start over with fresh fruit. The French brought their techniques and money to the region and infused La Rioja with new life and improved wine production. By the time the phylloxera came to the La Rioja in 1890, the area was able to survive based on what the French had already learned about these dangerous grape pests [source: Hand Picked Selections].

Today, La Rioja offers wine routes, vineyard excursions and festivals to celebrate its historical wine culture. Visitors can explore monuments, ancient buildings and modern wineries in any number of tourist packages.

Read on to learn about La Rioja's agriculture and viticulture.