In the Middle Ages, winemaking in the Mediterranean area had strong ties with the monastic life, since it was mainly the monks who made it widely known.
The area of Rioja wines is no exception and we are very proud that Gonzalo de Berceo, the first poet who wrote in the Romance Language, should have mentioned wine in the verses he composed from his retreat in the Monastery of Suso in San Millán de la Cogolla.
The first document to make reference to the safeguarding of quality and guarantee of Rioja wines dates from the year 1650, although already in 1102, King Sancho of Navarre had legally recognized our prestigious wines.
In 1787 the Real Sociedad Económica de Cosecheros de Rioja (Royal Economic Society of Rioja Winegrowers) was established with the aim of encouraging the cultivation of vines, wine production and its commercial development.
Then, in the twentieth century, in 1902, a Royal Decree was enacted defining the "origin" applicable to Rioja wines. In 1926 the creation of the Consejo Regulador (Control Board) was decreed. Its mission was to define the boundaries of the designated region of origin of "Rioja" wines, supervise the issue of the "seal of approval", and to recommend the legal measures to be taken against usurpers and forgers of the "Rioja" name. However, it was not until 1945 that this body attained its legal structure.
The Control Board finally became officially established in 1953, and from that time began to set out the foundations for a modern and efficient operation.
In the evolution of Rioja wine up to the present time we must mention the passing in 1970 of the Regulations of the Designation of Origin and its Control Board. It was at this time that this body obtained a clearly defined structure and responsibility: "The Control Board shall uphold the Designation of Origin and implement, monitor and foster the quality of its wines."
Through various amendments to the Regulations governing the Control Board, which have adapted it to the new needs which have arisen over the last few years, the quality control systems have improved and the marketing function has been strengthened.
After a long process, during which the "Rioja" Designation of Origin always endeavoured to ensure quality and maintain controls at point of origin, its efforts finally received their due recognition.
On 3 April 1991 a Ministerial Order granted the category of 'Calificada' to the D.O., the first wine designation of origin in Spain to attain this ranking.