So here it is; Rioja is a big deal. With over 14,000 vineyards across 65,000 hectares it is the largest producing region in Spain. It is by no means the largest in area though, only stretching for 130 km from Haro to Alfaro, the vineyard planting is possibly the densest in Spain. Although there are 14,000 vineyards, there are only 583 business with a license to bottle, meaning there are many more growers than producers, like Champagne. Also like Champagne there are quite a few large producers, but large here means for than one million cases. Vineyards are spread across the three viticultural sub-regions of Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Orientale, and generally wine is blended across the three in different volumes. Rioja wine is the most exported and consumed around the world, and would most likely be the first region that comes to mind when considering Spanish wine regions. The three appointments I had on my second day in the region were in the three main type of winery; one large commercial winery, one mid-sized modern negociant, and one iconic super-premium producer.
|Above Rioja Alavesa|