Set on a rugged plateau tucked into a landscape of castles and medieval villages, Rueda is one of Spain\u2019s most important white wine regions. Named after a town in the province of \u00adValladolid, the Rueda Denominaci\u00f3n de Origen (DO) touches three provinces: Valladolid, Segovia and \u00c1vila. It was established in 1980, but like elsewhere in Spain, Rueda\u2019s \u00adviticultural traditions extend back for centuries.\r\n\r\nWhite wine comprises more than 95 percent of the production in Rueda, and the vast majority of those bottlings use Verdejo. Locals believe Verdejo originated in North \u00adAfrica and was brought to Spain by the Moors.\r\n\r\nThe first record of Verdejo\u2019s production in Rueda dates to the 11th century. Characterized by firm acidity and an attractive fruit profile, Verdejo offers notes ranging from citrusy to tropical, inflected with wild herbs and a strong mineral character.\r\n\r\nDespite its long heritage, Verdejo teetered on the precipice of extinction as the 20th century began, \u00ada victim of the phylloxera louse that ravaged vines. It was \u00adreplaced mostly by Palomino Fino, the high-yielding white grape that producers crushed for bulk winemaking and \u00adfortified Sherry-style offerings. Not until the 1970s did \u00adinterest turn to \u00adRueda\u2019s fine-wine potential.\r\nNew Projects and Plantings\r\nWith an eye toward delivering a fresh, \u00adaromatic white, Rioja producer Marqu\u00e9s de Riscal was the first major winery to set its sights on the region. The winery invested heavily to \u00adreplant Verdejo. \u00adRiscal\u2019s success brought a wave of \u00adinterest and vine replanting.\r\n\r\nSince then, Spain\u2019s biggest players have started wineries here, \u00adincluding recent projects by Gonz\u00e1lez Byass and \u00adCodorn\u00edu. The 40 wineries registered in 2005 rose to 69 in 2015. Vineyard acreage, currently around 32,000 acres, has nearly doubled since 2005.\r\nThe mechanization of Rueda\u2019s vineyards has transformed its potential for growth and quality.\r\nBottles carrying the Rueda designation \u00adrequire a minimum 50 percent Verdejo, while the remainder of the blend can consist of any percentage of \u00adViura (a\u2009k\u2009a \u00adMacabeo, also used in white Rioja) or Sauvignon Blanc.\r\n\r\nUnder the Rueda Verdejo designation, the required varietal base increases to 85 percent, and the same is necessary for Rueda Sauvignon (the local name for Sauvignon Blanc). Purists, however, prefer to work with 100 percent Verdejo, seeking to create a variety of expressions through different sites and winemaking styles.\r\nA Land of Extremes\r\nPoised on a plateau between 2,300 and 2,600 feet above sea level, Rueda\u2019s climate is marked by cold, hard winters, fleeting springs and dry, hot summers. Yet, \u00adVerdejo has adapted to these hostile extremes. The cool nights that follow hot days help grapes \u00adretain natural acidity. Stingy levels of rainfall occur mainly around spring and autumn. Vines receive a \u00adlittle extra \u00adwater assistance, strictly \u00adregulated by the DO, to help push through the arid growing season. Without modern \u00addrip-irrigation, harvest yields would be much \u00adlower.\r\n\r\nRueda\u2019s soils are generally stony, with good drainage. The lack of nutrients, and richness in lime and iron, contributes to the quality of the wines. That\u2019s especially true for vineyards near the \u00adDuero River, where limestone content is high, and along the gravel sections close to Valladolid. The \u00adsandier stretches near Segovia stopped phylloxera from spreading, and some prized old Verdejo bush vines still survive there.\r\n\r\nUnlike these prephylloxera rarities, new vines are trained on trellises. The mechanization of Rueda\u2019s vineyards has \u00adfundamentally transformed its potential for growth and \u00adquality. Growers can now more easily \u00adrespond to the challenges of 30,000-plus acres of Verdejo ripening simultaneously across the \u00adappellation.\r\n\r\nMachine harvesting accelerates the picking process, \u00addelivering more grapes efficiently and in good condition to the wineries. The time saved helps avoid bunches deteriorating on the vine. In the winery, technology enables producers to keep wines clean, crisp and free of oxidation.\r\n\r\nWhile the Verdejo renaissance began with a vision of crafting youthful and fragrant wines, some \u00adproducers seek to push the boundaries of the grape\u2019s \u00adpotential. They experiment with organic and sustainable farming and \u00adselect fruit from bush vines and single-vineyard \u00adparcels. The goal is to create wines of interest, complexity and \u00adageability.\r\nProducers To Look For\r\nOne of Rueda\u2019s top properties, doing business today as Belondrade, was founded more than 20 years ago by members of the Lurton and Belondrade families from Bordeaux. Under the direction of Didier Belondrade, the La Seca-based winery, originally called Belondrade y Lurton,\u00a0 produces a signature creamy style of barrel-fermented, lees-aged Verdejo.\r\n\r\nAnother Rueda leader is Vi\u00f1edos de Nieva, located in the province of Segovia, whose limited-production, steely style of Verdejo called Pie Franco is made from hand-picked, ungrafted vines planted over a century ago.\r\n\r\nGarciar\u00e9valo, in Matapozuelos, offers both an easy drinking Verdejo called Tres Olmos and a fuller-bodied, small-production wine from the estate\u2019s oldest vines called Harenna.\r\n\r\nMeanwhile, Javier Sanz, a longtime grape grower turned winemaker, is known for producing tiny amounts of Malcorta, a rare and fragile clone of Verdejo. Another \u00adfamily-owned property, Jos\u00e9 Pariente, has spent years experimenting with fermentations in stainless steel tanks, oak barrels and concrete eggs. Its wines consistently rank among Rueda\u2019s best.\r\nGetting There\r\nReaching Rueda\u2019s wineries from Madrid is a snap. Located roughly 100 miles northwest of the capital, the region is easily accessible by car or high-speed train.\r\n\r\nThe recently expanding Ruta del Vino de Rueda, or Rueda Wine Route, encourages enotourism. Its suggested itinerary crosses 13 towns, including the former Spanish capital of Valladolid, a city replete with beautiful churches, museums and palaces as well as several very good restaurants.\r\n\r\nAccessed through wineries including \u00adYllera and Moc\u00e9n, the route descends beneath the town of Rueda\u2019s streets into a miles-long labyrinth of galleries that are still intact from the Middle Ages. The route also links traditional Rueda bodegas to contemporary projects like Finca Montepedroso.\r\n\r\nOverall, as demand for Rueda\u2019s wines continues to grow, so has the infrastructure and options that allow wine lovers to taste the region\u2019s expressive whites in the land where Verdejo has long flourished.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nGarciar\u00e9valo 2014 Tres Olmos Verdejo; $17, 90 points. Pure citrus, green melon and briny aromas amount to classic Rueda Verdejo. This has a lifted, juicy mouthfeel and dry, pithy, citrusy flavors that fold in stony notes and hints of green herbs. A light, ethereal finish is what you want from the variety. Drink now. De Maison Selections. \u2014M.S.\r\n\r\nBlanco Nieva 2014 Pie Franco Verdejo; $30, 89 points. Minerality and raw citrus aromas create a true Verdejo bouquet. This is properly acidic and fresh, but a touch round and pulpy as well. Briny, borderline bitter flavors of grapefruit, lime, tarragon and scallion finish pithy. Drink now. Frontier Wine Imports. \u2014M.S.\r\n\r\nDominios de Castilla 2014 Verdejo; $11, 87 points. Tropical fruit, melon and apple aromas are lightly briny and solid. The palate on this everyday white is lively and fresh, with jumpy acidity. Flavors of nectarine, mango, apple and lime stay fruity and clean across the finish. Winesellers, Ltd. Best Buy. \u2014M.S.\r\n\r\nMarqu\u00e9s de Ir\u00fan 2014 Verdejo; $11, 87 points. This is a solid Verdejo with stony aromas of citrus fruits, grapefruit in particular. A palate with citric acidity creates a fresh platform for orange and grapefruit flavors. A round, plump finish with briny citrus flavors is a good ending. Europvin. Best Buy. \u2014M.S.\r\n\r\nNaia 2014 Las Brisas; $14, 87 points. Citrusy aromas of lemon and grapefruit show a leesy side note. This blend of 50% Verdejo, 30% Viura and 20% Sauvignon Blanc is pithy and citric on the palate, with flavors of lemon, green apple and orange peel that carry onto a lasting, healthy finish. Aviva Vino. \u2014M.S.\r\n\r\nEsperanza 2014 Estate Grown & Bottled Verdejo-Viura; $9, 86 points. Simple but solid apple and nectarine aromas are straight-forward. This feels round and easy, without much acid-based cut. Flavors of melon, mango and nectarine finish short, with a note of apple. Axial Wines USA. Best Buy. \u2014M.S.