The region of La Rioja consists of a single-province, also called La Rioja. It lies in the north of Spain and is bordered by no less than four other Spanish regions: the Basque Country, Navarre, Aragon, and Castile and Leon. La Rioja has a total population of just over 300,000 people, about half of whom live in the region’s capital, Logroño. The region enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Average temperatures range from 12º to 32º, and average rainfall ranges from 300mm to 600mm.
La Rioja’s capital city is Logroño, but with a population of around 150,000 the city still retains a lot of the old-world charm one might expect of a provincial town. The second-biggest town, Calahorra, has a population of less than 25,000, and, although there are a number of smaller towns and villages dotted on the landscape, the rest of the population lives mainly in rural areas.
Abroad, the La Rioja region is synonymous with Spanish wine production, and, indeed, wines have been produced here for centuries. Today there are 150 wineries with 14,000 vineyards spread out over 500 square kilometers.
There are four types of Rioja red: Rioja which has spent one year in an oak ageing barrel is known simply as Rioja. Crianza, meanwhile, is the name given to Rioja which has been aged for at least two years. Rioja Reserva has been aged for at least three years, and Rioja Gran Reserva has been aged for at least two years in oak and three years in a bottle.
Simplicity is the key to the region’s cuisine. La Rioja has learnt to borrow and adapt from the surrounding areas, while at the same time maintaining its own culinary traditions. Some traditional dishes include Patatas a la Riojana (Rioja style potatoes) Pochas (a stew made with beans and cured meats), and Bacalao a la Riojana (Riojan-style salt cod), and all are accompanied by generous glasses of the best wine in Spain.
The region is served by its own airport in Logroño, and also by Zaragoza airport in neighbouring Aragon (LINK). Motorways connect the region with neighbouring provinces and the rest of Spain, while Logroño’s train station provides a rail link with the rest of the country.