Rioja faces power lines plan

Rioja faces power lines plan

Some of Rioja's most prestigious vineyards may be under threat from plans to build an extensive network of electricity lines across the Spanish wine region.

Winemakers in the region are protesting against a series of high voltage lines that will run from Haro to Burgos in North West Spain. Construction of the network is set to be complete in April 2011.

Jorge Muga, senior winemaker at Bodegas Muga in Haro, told just-drinks today (8 February) that the lines cross over 10,000 hectares of vineyards in the Rioja Alta zone. “They are destroying the image of one of the most important icons in the world of viticulture," he said. "In our opinion, the damage caused is the most important since phylloxera,” Jorge said.

Winemakers in the region will petition UNESCO on the grounds that their vineyards should be considered a protected World Heritage Site.

The companies Red Electrica Española and Iberdrola plan to build a further five networks in the region over the next 20 years. A spokesperson for the companies said the networks are "vital" to meet energy demand.