Definition - What does Rioja mean?
Rioja is a major wine-producing region located in northeastern Spain. It falls under a Qualified Designation of Origin, Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOC). Winemaking here dates back to 873. The climate is widely influenced by the Ebro river and the Cantabrian Mountains and is mainly arid and very warm, making it favorable for red, white and rosé wines.
WineFrog explains Rioja
Rioja is divided in to smaller subregions of; La Rioja, Navarre, Basque and Alava. It is then also divided into the three zones of Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja. Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa are located close to the mountains and have a cooler climate because of their elevation. Rioja Baja is located more southeast and has a much warmer and drier climate. The major regions of vineyards can be found along the Ebro valley following the river.
Soils here are made up of limestone, alluvial silt and sandstone, allowing the ground to keep the warmth from the day during the night so that the vines can consume its food it created via photosynthesis.
The most famous wines of Rioja are red made from Tempranillo. Other grapes are Mazuelo, Garnacha Tinta and Graciano. White wines called Rioja Blanco are made from Viura (aka Macabeo) sometimes blended with Malvasia and Garnacha blanca.