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The soils of the vineyards of the Rioja Region

La Rioja, as an area which produces wines having “Appellations d’origine” does have different types of soils, but the vineyards are situated on fundamentally three types of soils, referred to as:

  • Calcareus clay
  • Ferrous clay
  • Alluvial

The calcareous – clay soils are ocred-colored soils that comprise stair step terraces running from the Cantabria Mountains to the Ebro River. They extend, fundamentally, throughout the Alava sector of the Rioja region.

The alluvial soils are found in terraces near the rivers that flow from the Sierra de la Demanda Mountains down to the Ebro River (Tiron, Oja, Najerilla, Iregua, Cidacos, etc). They comprise flat lands, which are easily worked and are adaptable to several different crops.

The ferrous – clay soils are found on ridged slopes of low mountains that separate the valleys of these two aforementioned rivers. They are reddish or garnet-coloured lands which provide for moderately sloped vineyards.

None of these types of soils have any intrinsically positive or negative factor which would influence their quality. However, the ones with the most moderate of yields, the Calcareous – Clay ones, are, thus, the lands from which the most special qualities is achieved.

Soils distribution in the Rioja Region

© Manuel Ruiz Hernández, 1999

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