In the south of Álava there is a region called Rioja Alavesa, which is 316 km2. It is placed between two big archs; the arch of the north is formed by mountain ranges, among which are Codés, Cantabria and Toloño; and, the southern arch is 40 km long, as it corresponds to the course of a river called Ebro. It is the East where there is the longer distance between the two arches, 15 km. On the other hand, that is, in the West, between Baños de Ebro and Herrera´s Pass, the arches are just 7 km away from each another. Finally, the two arches join in Conchas de Haro.
In sipte of not being a big land, Rioja Alavesa is a very peculiar place (despite the fact that the Basque Country is Atlantic and an industrial place, Rioja Alavesa is Mediterranean and a rural), but, also rich (due to the inhabitants, the agricultural possibilities, its wine industry, heritage, etc.), and varied (due to its resources, landscapes, and ecosystems).
Nowadays, Rioja Alavesa is unquestionably known as a wine-producing area. In fact, the wine is one of the most important natural products of the Mediterranean culture. Despite the fact that wine's origin is dated back to the times before the Roman culture emerged, the Romans were the ones that made wine become a daily consumed drink. There is no doubt that the Romans were the ones that crossed the river Ebro and introduced the grapevine crop to the lands placed in the southern parts of the mountain ranges called Cantabria and Toloño. But, the Romans did not only introduce the grapevines, they also introduced other Mediterranean products, such as the olive trees and the fig trees. In spite of the fact that, later, the Visigoths kept cultivating the vineyards, during the first centuries of the Arabic invasion and land control, the vineyard cultivation stopped. After the Arabs had moved away to the south, the land was repopulated and, in order to consolidate their modus vivendi, the agricultural cultivations were recovered and developed. From that period until nowadays, the Rioja Alavesa's wine-producing culture has been operative, although the people in charge of the cultivation have influenced wine's production.
Since the 10th century, the Cartularies from San Millán de la Cogolla and Leyre, wrote a lot of documents about the Rioja Alavesa's vines (at that time this land was called "Navarre's Subserra or Sonsierra"). These are some of the quotations taken from those documents, "...ibi plantivimus hedificavimus... ortos, molinis, manazanares, vineis...", "...in villa cum ecclesia Sancta Maria Torrentelio..., cum ómnibus que ad illan medietaten pertinent, terris vineis...", etc. The documents from the Cartularies, apart from providing information about vineyards, they inform us about the structures used for transforming the fruit (grapes) into liquid (the grapejuice), and the places where they used to be placed in the vineyards and lands. During the 11th and 12th centuries, the words "torcular" , "torculare" , "torcularia-turcularia", "morculare", "troliare", "Iacus", "Iacum" and "Iaco" used to be used.