Haro, the District of the wineries: Viña Tondonia, Bodegas Muga, CVNE wine, etc.

Bodegas de Haro

Throughout the history of wine wineries have been located in places that winemakers have considered privileged.

There are a variety of factors that influence them when choosing the best enclaves for their vineyards and facilities. Some of the most outstanding ones are the quality of the soils in the area, the climate or the ease of transporting and distributing the goods. This is why wineries have often been located close to rivers or major communication routes: for example in the Loire Valley, in the Rhone Valley or near the Garonne in France; in the Duero and the Ebro in Spain, etc.

If we look closely at the specific case of La Rioja, we see that this is an area with a very long winegrowing tradition. La Rioja is crossed by the river Ebro, and its soils and climate are optimal for vine cultivation.

La Rioja’s long winegrowing tradition began with the Romans and the Phoenicians. Later, during the Middle Ages, it was maintained mainly due to the various monasteries in the area that continued to work the vines and developed improvements for their cultivation, and that began to sell their surplus wine to Cantabrian ports in the 15th century. Later still, in the eighteenth century, in order to aid in transporting wine to the Basque and Cantabrian provinces, a road was built that crossed the Ebro as it passes through Las Conchas de Haro. Then in 1863, the Castejón-Bilbao railway line was built, as well as the Haro station, and thanks to this new communication channel the national sales of La Rioja wine, its exports and consequently its production, were able to grow without precedent.

It was then, during the second half of the 20th century, when The Haro Station District began to take shape. In addition, this coincided with the appearance of the cryptogamic diseases of the vine in the old world, Oidium and mildew, as well as phylloxera. The first foci of these plagues were located in France, and in a few years these parasites devastated crops and part of the French vineyard. This caused an exodus of winemakers and negociats to areas that had not yet been affected, looking for opportunities. It is from that moment when export centres, warehouses and wineries began to be set up around Haro station.

Viña Tondonia

Some of these wineries are still standing on the original site. Currently, the largest number of hundred year old wineries in the world are concentrated in the Haro Station District. All of them have the railway station as their epicentre and were founded between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

The wineries located there are strongly influenced by the French tradition. This can be seen in the architecture of their buildings, with large walls to protect the wines from adverse external weather conditions, or in the processing techniques adopted by Rioja residents from their northern neighbours, for example in bottling the wines after these undergo barrel ageing.

Vino CVNE

Heirs to this tradition, of those still in the Haro District, the first to be installed was López de Heredia Viña Tondonia (1877). Two years later, in 1879, the Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (Northern Spain Wine Company), known as CVNE wine was founded, and a few years later Bodegas Gómez Cruzado (1886), Bodegas la Rioja Alta SA (1890) and Bodegas Bilbaínas (1901). Finally, already at the beginning of the 20th century, Bodegas Muga moved its headquarters from the city centre to the Station District (1932) so it could also enjoy the advantages of having the station next to the winery.

Bodegas Muga

All of them, Viña TondoniaCVNEBodegas MugaBodegas López CruzadoBodegas Rioja Alta and Bodegas Bilbaínas have a lengthy experience in the production of great wines and are a clear example of good practice and how to adapt to constant changes. Visiting The Haro Station District or trying the wines from the wineries established there is essential if we want to get a better idea of the history of an area that is unique in its wines, La Rioja.

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