Officially, the Denominación de Origen (D.O.) of Ribera del Duero was founded on July 21, 1982 by an organization of wine producers and growers who were determined to promote the quality of their wines and enforce regulatory standards.
In practice, winemaking in Ribera dates back over 2,000 years to the Roman era, as evidenced by a recent find, a 66-meter mosaic of Bacchus, the god of wine, unearthed at Baños de Valdearados. In the middle ages, new plantings by monasteries such as the Cistercians in Valbuena de Duero (first to arrive in the 12th Century) and the Benedictines from Cluny in Burgundy spurred a revival in local winemaking. Ribera’s earliest underground cellars with their distinctive chimneys were built in the thirteenth century in towns across the region, and still serve to protect wines from the extreme climate.
Wine became an essential aspect of Ribera’s cultural and economic development facilitating trade with other areas of Spain and resulting in the first quality regulations, the “Ordinances of Castilla y León,” in the fifteenth century. Ribera wines were highly regarded for export at the height of the Spanish Empire in the 17th and 18th centuries, and in more recent times the founding of Bodega Vega Sicilia in 1864 heralded the quality credentials of the region prior to the formal establishment of the D.O.
Today, new technology and modern techniques as well as a respect for tradition have driven the quality of Ribera del Duero to its highest accomplishments in over two millennia of winemaking history. Ribera wines have received international acclaim and enjoy widespread distribution.