DOCa Rioja has three zones with different wine characteristics: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental (called Rioja Baja until 2018).
The geographical features have contributed to forming a natural region that is perfectly delimited and differentiated from those around it. The 65,326 hectares of vineyards protected by the Designation of Origin are distributed among Rioja Alta(27,347 ha), Rioja Oriental (24,590 ha) and Rioja Alavesa (13,389 ha).
The production area of the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja is located in the north of Spain, on both sides of the River Ebro.
The maximum width of the valley area where grapes are grown is about 40 km. The vineyards are planted on successive terraces and some grow as high as 700 metres above sea level. In total 144 municipalities are part of the DOCa (118 in La Rioja, 18 in Álava and 8 in Navarre) as their land is suitable for the production of grapes with the necessary quality.
The whole area benefits from the confluence of two widely opposing climates (Atlantic and Mediterranean) with an annual rainfall of a little above 400 l/m2 and mild temperatures, ideal conditions for grape growing.
Rioja soils are also highly suitable for quality viticulture, as they have a balanced structure (sand, silt and clays), are slightly alkaline, poor in organic content and have moderate water availability during the summer.
Altogether, the Wine Region has a diversity of soils (clay-limestone, clay-ferrous and alluvial) and microclimates (vineyard layout and exposure levels, protection from wind, etc.) that give the wines unique traits. This, coupled with the use of different grape varieties and growing techniques, allows for a wide range of wines which vary in personality yet remain within the framework of a perfectly recognisable common identity.
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