La Rioja Wine Country, Spain


La Rioja is an autonomous community and a
province in Spain, located in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. Its capital is Logroño.
The region is well known for its wines under the brand Origen Calificada Rioja. The history of Rioja wine reflects a long
and varied winemaking tradition in the Spanish region of La Rioja, starting with the first
Phoenician settlers in 11th century BC. As with many of Europe’s most well known wine
regions, the Ancient Romans founded many of the Rioja vineyards. Throughout the Middle
Ages, pilgrims to the shrine of St. James at Santiago de Compostela passed through the
region and carried back with them the reputation of wines from the area. The phylloxera epidemic
of the late 19th century was a major catalyst in the expansion and modernization of the
Rioja wine industry, with the devastation the French wine industry both opening up the
French wine market and bringing an influx of French investment into the region. Today,
together with Sherry, Rioja is the most internationally recognized of all Spanish wines. The area was formerly occupied by pre-Roman
Berones, Pelendones and Basques. After partial recapture to the Muslims in the early tenth
century, the region became part of the Kingdom of Pamplona, later being incorporated into
Castile after a century and a half of disputes. From the eighteenth century the Rioja region
remained divided between the provinces of Burgos and Soria, until in 1833 the province
of Logroño was created, changing the name of the province to La Rioja in 1980 as a prelude
to its constitution under a single provincial autonomous community following the adoption
of the Estatuto de San Millán in 1982. The first written reference in which the name
Rioja appears is in the Miranda de Ebro forum in 1099.

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