Priorat is one of only two wine regions in Spain to qualify as DOQ, the highest qualification level for a wine region according to Spanish wine regulations, alongside Rioja. The DOQ covers 11 municipalities. It primarily produces powerful red wines, which came to international attention in the 1990s. The area is characterized by its unique soil of black slate and quartz soil known as llicorella.
The first recorded evidence of grape growing and wine production dates from the 12th century, when the monks from the Carthusian Monastery of Scala Dei, founded in 1194, introduced the art of viticulture in the area. At the end of the 19th century, phylloxera devastated the vineyards causing economic ruin and large scale emigration of the population. Before phylloxera struck, Priorat was believed to have had around 5,000ha of vineyards. The DO Priorat was formally created in 1954 and today holds about 1,900ha of vineyards.
It was around 1985 that the production of bulk wine was phased out and bottling of quality wine phased in. The Catalan authorities approved of Priorat’s elevation from DO to DOQ status in 2000, but national level confirmation from the Spanish government only came on July 6, 2009.