Rioja: Spain’s Flagship Wine Region

A Proud History
Spain’s most famous wine region has been producing wine since at least the 9th century. Because monastic communities throughout Europe made wines and other products to sell, Spanish monks were Rioja’s first large-scale wine producers. As early as the 17th century, Rioja’s local winemakers began to work together, establishing the Royal Economic Society of Rioja Winegrowers to promote their interests. This tradition continues today with the Control Board of the Rioja Designation of Origin, the governing body of Rioja’s Denominacíon de Origen Calificada (DOCa).

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When Spain began to develop its DO classification rules, Rioja was the first wine region to receive official DO status, which was granted in 1925. In 1991 Rioja received Spain’s first-ever DOCa designation, further underscoring the area’s importance and prestige in the winemaking world.

Rioja wines were originally made according to old Spanish tradition, which emphasized long aging – sometimes for decades – in French oak barrels. Today, Rioja winemakers use both American and French oak and age their wines either traditionally or for shorter periods in the modern style to achieve the high level of quality associated with the region’s wines. Innovation and quality continue to be the hallmarks of Rioja wines.

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.