ECONOMY IN ELCIEGO
The social and economic system of Elciego is built on the world of wine, whether in winegrowing and production or in the emerging tourism bound to them. Elciego is home to winegrowers, small harvesters, family wineries with burgeoning dedication to mature wine, medium-sized and large wineries offering a wide range of styles, from well cared-for yearly or harvested wines, through to the current renowned high expression wines.
The history of wine in Elciego dates back through time immemorial, although it was during the 16th and 17th centuries that the vines extended through the municipality in such a manner that production increased sevenfold. At the beginning of the 19th century, wine production in Elciego amounted to 1.8 million litres, making the town the most important in Rioja Alavesa in terms of volume.
The phylloxera plague at the end of the 19th century led to a new period of expansion of winegrowing in Elciego. The vines began to take over land previously dedicated to other crops, such as olive groves and cereals, and, in just a few years, the total surface area for vines increased by 160 hectares. In this manner, wine production in 1880 amounted to two million litres, with the vines covering a surface area of 1210 hectares. For almost 100 years, Marqués de Riscal (founded in 1860) set the standard for Elciego harvesters and wine producers, by buying their wine or grapes or by employing a large part of the working population in their vineyards. After two decades of economic hard times came the boom time of the 70s and the arrival of new wineries which significantly improved the income levels from wine producers.
Elciego is currently one of the most famed areas for the quality of its wines. Of the 16 km2 of its jurisdiction, 90% is considered to be effective agricultural land. Most of the vines are set between 430 and 480 metres, and thus have very little variation. The soils are poor and limey, deep and spongy. It is a privileged vine area, with almost 90% of Tempranillo variety, less than 4% of other red varieties (Graciano, Mazuelo), whilst the rest is dedicated to white varieties, summarised in Viura and some Malvasia.
Elciego now has 275 cultivation areas dedicated to wine production, used by both full-time and part-time farmers. The cultivation areas in Elciego cover around 1400 hectares, of which 1038 hectares, in accordance with the statistics of the Regulating Board, are in the municipality, whilst the others are found in the neighbouring localities.
New wineries and brands, significant investment aimed at increasing production and the use of prestigious architects to design attractive, modern, innovative plants meant the area became a reference point and an attractive place for tourists.
Elciego also counts on a large number of commercial premises and companies. Its growth is now at an important point, with significant projects which have aroused great interest amongst tourists.