The wine region of Ribera del Duero is located in Castilla Leon(old Castilla). The wine region spreads in 4 different provinces, though most of the vineyards are located in Burgos, near the town of Aranda de Duero. The 4 provinces are Valladolid (capital of Castilla Leon), Burgos, Soria, and Segovia. Burgos holds most of the vineyard, followed by Valladolid. Both Soria and Segovia hold a small proportion of total vineyard surface.
There are 2 main factors that explain why Ribera del Duero produces such fantastic red wines.
Medieval monks were not aware of the geology behind the secret for local wines, but they planted grapes in the monasteries along the river Duero. Recent analyses have outlined a soil perfect for red wine growing: the bedrock is similar to the ones found in the best areas of Prioral or in the west of the Duoro port Valley. Above the bedrock lies a carbonate sub-soil rich in gypsum and at the high-level active chalk is present.
Vines are planted between 750 and 850 meters of height. The vineyards occupy both sides of the Duero River. At this height, summers temperatures get as high as 40°C during the day (104°F) but they can sharply fall at night by 25°C or more. This dramatic change in temperature is actually the best thing that can happen to the local grapes. The plants “sleep at night” when temperatures drop. The plants do not consume nutrients from the soil at night. But when the daylight arrives those nutrients remain intact and the plant passes them to the grapes!
Due to the terroir characteristics that are shown above, the wines from Ribera del Duero have a bold and bright character. Nearly everything produced in the region is red wine, though some rosé wine is produced and even some small amounts of white wine, something that was not allowed in the past. Quality sells and prices of Ribera del Duero wines climbed in the 1980s and 1990s. Much more wine is produced today since lots of wineries of all sizes looked at Ribera del Duero to buy and plant vineyards.
The Phoenicians introduced wine to the region over 1000 years ago. From there, the roman empire recognized the prime conditions of the region for winemaking and established vineyards there to provide wine for their troops, and there is evidence of their influence across the region. After the Romans, the catholic church took over the winemaking in Ribera. This explains why several important wineries in Ribera are housed in monasteries and churches.