Navarra Wine Region of Spain: History, Wines, & Producers

In December 2008, the Navarra DO will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its first constitution.  Of course, Navarra has been producing wines for much longer than 75 years.  In fact, archaeological finds from the second century B.C. include Roman-era earthenware wine jars.  Perhaps the DO should be celebrating its 2,075th anniversary instead.

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With so much tradition behind it, you might think that the Navarra DO would quickly and easily find its way to the top echelon of Spain's wine regions, but Navarra's path to success hasn't been smooth.  While Navarra's wines were famous as early as the Middle Ages, when winemakers catered to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrims, the region's production focused mainly on bulk wines before 1933.

Efforts to create a Navarra DO began in the mid-1930s, but the Spanish Civil War and the post-war recovery process delayed this process.  In 1967, Navarra officially became a DO.  Today, Navarra includes five sub-regions: Baja Montaña, Tierra Estella, Valdizarbe, Ribera Alta and Ribera Baja.

The establishment of EVENA, the Estación de Viticulture y Enología de Navarra (Navarra Viticulture and Oenological Research Station), in the Ribera Alta sub-region was a turning point in Navarra's winemaking history.  EVENA conducts research and plants experimental vineyards to support its missions of introducing useful technology and up-to-date winemaking methods into the DO's wineries and working to improve every aspect of viticulture, from the grapes themselves to pest control and harvest methods.  EVENA is a resource for all the winemakers in Navarra, including those in the adjacent Rioja DO.  As a result, many Navarra winemakers have upgraded not only their equipment but also their planting, harvesting and production methods.  The result is a higher level of quality and innovation.  This process is still ongoing; Navarra's winemakers are looking for ways to build on this foundation of quality and distinguish themselves from their neighbors in Rioja.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.