The region of Bierzo is located in the northwest of the province of León, within the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León (Spain has 17 self-governing regions called Autonomous Community).
With 2’954,28 km2, Bierzo represents 18% of the province. From a geographic point of view, Bierzo is bordering with the provinces of Orense, Lugo and Oviedo. Within the province of León, we may highlight a few areas, such as “La Montaña” (Mountain) including for example Muria de Paredes and Laciana, “La Cabrera” (which means “Goatherd”; name probably due to the suitable terrain for goat habitat) and “La Meseta” (Plateau). Bierzo is therefore a transition area between León, Galicia and Asturias.
Bierzo is a tectonic depression. An Alpine orography where a range of blunt and flattened mountains with residual crests stand out. But also a lower area of narrow valleys with deep gorges. An intra-mountainous depression formed by sediments. Its peculiar orography defines the most suitable agriculture in each area.
Quotes from Pliny the Elder and Strabo (1st century B.C.) already describe vineyards in the region nowadays known as Bierzo. Name derived from the Pre-Roman city of Bergidum. Romans were the drivers who developed agriculture in this region, introducing new plants such as grapevines, more specifically the species Vitis Vinifera native to Caucasus (Armenia), as well as new techniques, such as ploughing.
However, the biggest extension of our vineyards is related to the development of Medieval monasteries and more specifically the Cistercians, as wine is an essential part of their worship and diet. During the Middle Ages, with the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (St James’s Way), new monasteries were built and therefore also new villages and hamlets. The extension of vineyards grew and wine became more and more important to the economy of the region.
After centuries of production and earning some renown in Galicia and Asturias, the wines form Bierzo suffered a terrible setback in the late 19th century, when the phylloxera plague spread and destroyed most of the vineyards, causing an important economic crisis.
In the beginning of the 20th century, the wine production recovery became reality thanks to grafting onto American rootstocks and this important change allowed wine to play again the important economic role it used to.
In the 70’s the co-operative movement emerged and has been since then a key factor in the wine industry. The quality of the wines from Bierzo finally won in 1989 a decisive recognition when the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food granted a specific appellation to the wines from this region.