Ribera del Guadiana: Diversity in Spain's Extremadura Wine Region

Ribera del Guadiana is one of Spain's newest wine regions.  The Extremadura area, which borders Portugal, Andalucía, Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León, has a long history of winemaking.  The area's only DO, Ribera del Guadiana, was not established until 1997, when Extremadura's six Vino de la Tierra regions were combined.  Ribera del Guadiana's diverse terroirs and large list of approved grape varieties have given the region's winemakers a lot to work with.  The resulting wines vary greatly in style and quality, but Ribera del Guadiana's winemakers have established a significant goal, to make high-quality wines in the modern style that reflect the uniqueness of Extremadura.

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Ribera del Guadiana History

The Romans brought winemaking to the area they called Lusitania, now known as Extremadura.  Archaeologists have discovered wine cups and winemaking equipment from the Roman period; the oldest artifact dates back to about 550 B.C.  A beautiful third-century A.D. mosaic found in Emérita Augusta depicts the ancients' grape pressing process.  The region's monasteries became the medieval winemaking centers, establishing procedures and traditions that continued for many centuries.

The 19th century brought mildew (1845 and 1878) and phylloxera (1868).  Little, apparently, was done to resuscitate the wine industry until after the Spanish Civil War, which ended in 1939.  At that time, growers began to rework their vineyards.  Fortunately, they planted a wide variety of native grapes, including some grown nowhere else in Spain.

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.

Six areas within Extremadura were designated as Vino de la Tierra regions in 1990.  By 1996, work had begun on combining these six VdT regions into one DO.  The necessary regulations were approved in 1997.