Rioja enjoys an enviable position among Spanish wine regions. Sheltered by the Sierra de Cantabria to the north and west, it is well protected from the rain-bearing Atlantic winds that drench the Basque coast immediately to the north. Yet Rioja’s wine producers rarely experience the climatic extremes that burden growers in so much of central and southern Spain. It is difficult to make climatic generalizations, however, about a region that stretches about 120 km/75 miles from north west to south east. Indeed, Spanish critics argue that within this single DO there are several entirely different wine-producing regions.