Somontano Wine Region History and Culture
Viticulture is a long-standing tradition in Somontano, dating as far back as the 2nd century B.C. [source: NationMaster]. At this time, Italic people were settling the region, and many had already worked in wine production. They not only brought their techniques to the area, but also brought their native grapes and wines [sources: NationMaster, DOSomontano].
It was the Middle Ages that really helped shaped the Somontano region we know today. At this time, almost the entire region was covered with vineyards, due largely in part to the abundant monasteries. Wine had become an important part in many religious ceremonies and gatherings. In fact, monks are widely recognized as key players in the evolution of wine production. In Somontano, the monks expanded the cultivation of wine and built a strong relationship with France, exporting their Spanish wine to this close neighbor. The relationship would prove to be extremely beneficial in the future.
In the 19th century, a breakout of Phylloxera spread across France, wreaking havoc on the grape vines and halting wine production. The ties Somontano had with French cities came into play, and Somontano wine production had to be increased so the foreign demand could be met. Sales and exports -- not only to France -- went up as people everywhere were looking for quality wine [sources: Harley].
While the region had been in the wine production business for ages, it wasn't until the early 1970s that they took the next big step toward ensuring their industry fame. In 1974, Somontano applied for DO status. It took a hefty amount of time, but almost 11 years later, the region gained approval [source: Harley].