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It was during the time of the Roman Empire that La Rioja was found to be an ideal region for the cultivation and production of wine. Later, during the Middle Ages, monks from various established monasteries, including those from San Millán de la Cogolla, began to develop cultivation techniques to improve viticulture.
In the sixteenth century, La Rioja was already one of the leading wine-producing regions and exported wine to the rest of Spain and even to Europe. It was able to establish itself in part due to an increase in production, and the implementation of quality control and regulatory measures in the production of wine. The sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the most significant growth in wine production and viticulture and cemented Rioja’s reputation as a European wine-producing region.
The Phylloxera vastratrix outbreak in the early twentieth century severely affected the region. The plague, which originated in the United States arrived in Spain via France, and its destructive effects virtually razed all its vineyards and consequently plunged the territory into a major economic crisis.
The only effective measure against phylloxera was the grafting of American strains; the only ones that were immune to this parasite. After two decades of slow recovery Rioja wine once again regained its reputation as a world-class wine-producing region.
In 1926 the Regulatory Council was created to control and regulate production and issue quality seals. Furthermore, it established legal measures to protect Rioja wine from counterfeits and fakes.