La Rioja

Covering parts of the Ebro valley in its north, and the Iberian Range in the south, is one of Spain’s smaller autonomies in size but not stature: La Rioja


(source: wikipedia)

(source: wikipedia)


Long before there was even an Iberian Peninsula or territory known as Europe, dinosaurs ruled a different continent. Erosion has revealed their gigantic footprints set in stone in La Rioja, making it one of the major paleontological areas of the world.

The original name of the terrain of rugged fauna covered mountains and fertile valleys was Logroño, which is now the capital. The first appearance of “La Rioja” (from the second of the area’s two main rivers: El Ebro and La Oja) was in the Miranda de Ebro forum in 1099. However, it didn’t become the name of the autonomy until 1980, just as Denominación de origen calificada (DOCa) Rioja was to become synonymous with Spanish wine.

The capital, Logroño, has a long and deep culinary tradition and is known for having some of the best tapas in northern Spain. Every June 11th, it celebrates “La Fiesta de San Bernabé”, marking the moment it repelled Napoleonic forces, one of the many groups who had tried to rule these proud people. Fried trout is typically handed out by the Fish Brotherhood during these festivities, along with bread and wine, supposedly the only ingredients available in the city during the siege.

In addition to the capital, there are other small cities and towns: Calahorra, Arnedo, Alfaro, Haro, Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Nájera.

The tradition of wine-making in the region dates back to the Phoenicians of the 11th century BC and extends through the Romans and Visigoths. La Rioja’s location along El Camino de Santiago saw medieval pilgrims spread the word about its robust flavor to their families all over Europe, after their return home a few years later. The phylloxera epidemic (when tiny aphid type insects destroyed many of France’s vineyards in the 19th century) provided an opening for La Rioja to enter the French market, at the same time bringing in Gallic investment and expertise, thus beginning the modern period where La Rioja wine is up there with the best of them.

The locals call themselves “Riojanos”. And it is one of the few places where Castellano is the single language. The capital, Logroño, offers over 50 taperías (tapas restaurants) within a 4 block area of the town center. Stews made with fava beans and dishes rich in local meats, vegetables and pulses (peppers, garlic, onions, artichokes, asparagus), provide the food to go with the many wines.

But this video isn’t about the capital but a small town.

Discover food tours and language courses in La Rioja


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