The culture of wine and the basque traditions
The town situated in the border of the ancient Navarra Kingdom was born to defend the kingdom and has a strong relationship with the Basque and its traditions (dance, sculpture in stone, jai alai, gastronomy rural sports……)
It was not very long ago when it was an obliged route for the Basque traders that commerced out of the bounds of their region, and that bought wine of the area that was always very appreciated.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE RIOJA WINE
The vineyards appear at the end of the middle ages and are extended all over europe and Spain. It is a very fragmentated society so it is neccesary that the centers of production are next to the consumers and so satisfy their alcoholic and religious needs, these ones important for the eucaristic celebration. We must point out that the grapes conquered the soil with the helping hand of monasteries and priests and only stopped from growing where the altitude or climate prevent them to succeed. The abundant vines variety that existed allowed this bush to adapt to very many different soils, including the poorest ones, what offered the farmer variety in the crops because as they had a different vegetative cycle as the cereals, it kept the farmers working during the months with less productivity.
From the end of the XV century the vine, very dispersed through Europe, tended to concentrate in some regions with better climate and well communicated and so it did when the occidental comsumption habits changed and many of the areas of production moved on to the turkish control.
One of those favored regions by the advance of the vine was the area of La Rioja. This soil situated in the high part of the river Ebro and specially suitable for the growing of vine, extended during this century to Castilla, Navarra, and the Basque provinces filling with vines the fields of Burgos, Soria, Alava and Navarra.
It is almost sure that it was in the times of the “Reyes católicos” when the extension of the vine in the high part of the river Ebro reached historical maxima, as a consequence of the notable increase that was getting place since the end of the XV century and was happening in other parts of the iberian peninsula , for example in the centre of CASTILLA. During this time, that probably extended on the first decades of the XVI century, many of the municipalities that before had not dedicated to viticulture, and were not going to in the next future, planted vines in their fields. Since then the constant demand of of wine will provoque a reorganitation of the production space, the delimitation of the Rioja territory and the specialitation of certain villages towards the viticulture.
Once in the XVII century the productions in la Rioja suffered from brutal oscillations. During the first decades of the XVI century the best crop years where followed by others not so good, but it was then when exceeding the first decades, when the Rioja consolitated and all the regions chose wine as the most important, in many of the cases the only richness income, all the political and economic inniciatives took into consideration.
The unbeatable economic expectations that wine offered after the third decade of the XVIII century resulted in the definitive specialitation, and in many villages to the monoculture of the Rioja consolidated finally. The same happenned in the villages around Logroño, Náqjera,Haro and Laguardia will become forever in the cellar of La Rioja.
During the VIII century the production and the rentability of the wine increased, specially on the second half of the century, tthat is why we have no doubt that during the end of this century the maximum benefit of the vine was obtained.
Once the political structures were controlled and were set tohelp the service of the wine farmers, the consumer market on the cantabric coast, such as (presses, laborers, selling regulations), there was no other way of obtaining the major benefit from the wine.
On the VII century the market opened to the north, Alava, specially Vitoria, is a great consumer of the wine, but it was consumed in the inland provinces of Guipuzcoa, Vizcaya and the north of Burgos, and therefore most of the Cantabric corniche, with more itensity from the river Deba in Guipuzcoa to San Vicebnte de la Barquera i “Cantabria”.
The Rioja is present in all the main export ports of the Iberic peninsula(Santoña, Santander, Bilbao) and it is natural that many of the wines travelled to Holland or Britain.