Rioja Winery leaves classification system after row over geographic details

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Sunset in the vineyards. La Rioja, Spain

A SMALL but influential Rioja winery in the province of Alava, has made the decision to leave the La Rioja denomination of origin system (DO) after its suggestion to amend the current system was blocked by the regulatory council for wineries and larger producers including Faustino and Marques de Riscal.

Within the world-famous wine producing region there are around 500 wineries with a Rioja DO, though connoisseur´s will know there are also three wine-growing areas within that: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. 

Micro-winery Artadi is a Rioja Alavesa producer located on a modest 80 hectare estate. With their focus on quality rather than quantity, their high-end wines are undeniably part of the Rioja success story. They argue that there is a need to acknowledge important differences between wines grown in the three areas and that the distinction ought to be recognised in the DO. 

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Artadi´s suggestion was backed by the Association of Alava Wine Producers (ABRA), who believe that adding more information about origin will create interest and add brand value.  

The regulatory council for wineries in the Rioja region has made recent concessions to allow smaller producers to give a more detailed description of their wines on labels, while stipulating that this should not include specific geographic information. 

The council believes the Rioja DO, introduced in 1925, is prestigious and highly advantageous for producers under its umbrella.  Despite this prestige, producer Artadi have made the decision to leave the fold, triggering concerns that other small producers may follow their lead. 

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