Rueda is an elevated, dry wine region in the tablelands of Castilla y Leon, Spain. It is located northwest of the Spanish capital, Madrid, and south of the Duero River.
Named after the town of Rueda, which bestrides the road connecting Madrid with Leon, it has historically been an important wine-growing area (vines were planted here more than a thousand years ago), but was devastated by phylloxera at the turn of the 20th Century. Rueda then turned to bulk wine production until the 1970s, when established bodegas (wineries) from other regions, in particular Marques de Riscal of Rioja, recognized the region's grape-growing potential. It was awarded DO status in 1980 (the first in Castilla y Leon) and since then the white wines produced here have gained a considerable reputation.
Rueda's climate is continental, with some influence from the cooling effects of the Atlantic Ocean. Although variations of temperature can be marked, Rueda's summer temperatures are not excessively high and this assists in the production of quality white wines. The high altitude, significant diurnal temperature variation and selection of late-ripening varieties in the region mitigate the effects of high sunshine hours (2,600 hours per year).
The local soils, rich in lime and iron, are also a vital factor. These are very stony, yet provide good drainage and are easy to farm. Almost all of Rueda's vineyards lie south of the Duero, along the river itself or close to its tributaries – the Trabancos, Zapardiel, Adaja, Eresma, Cega and Voltoya.
Verdejo is Rueda's signature grape variety, producing fruity, refreshing and dry white wines, and the region is committed to the grape's preservation and promotion. Its wines are typically aromatic and exhibit herbaceous notes, good acidity and pleasant mouthfeel thanks to its high glycerol content.
The wine laws of the region, administered by the Consejo Regulador (wine-regulating authority), permit Viura (Macabeo) and Sauvignon Blanc to be included in the blend, but Verdejo must constitute the majority. Rueda Superior, on the other hand, must contain at least 85% of that grape variety. Varietal wines based on Sauvignon Blanc are also attracting a lot of interest.