Autol is a little know town of La Rioja containing the largest area of vineyards in Rioja baja, amounting to more than one thousand hectares, which makes it the municipality.
Allowing it to be an outstanding producer of the primary product in Rioja, not the largest.
History of Autol
The discovery of Celtiberian pottery, in November 1994, at the foot of the castle of Autol, goes back in Autol history to the sixth century BC. This finding corroborates the precious strategic value of the Castle, whose current remains (probably Arab) are nothing but a reconstruction on an ancient military settlement that guarded the narrow gorge, through which flowed the Cidacos River and the Roman Way, under whose protection was formed a population center.
In the year 939, Autol appears for the first time in a written text, with the name of Abtole. Count Fernán González makes a vow of Perpetual Offering to San Millán de La Cogolla if, by his intercession, he defeated the caliph of Córdoba, Abderramán III. The Caliph was defeated in the famous Battle of Simancas, for which the Privilege of Vow Writing was written to San Millán, and under which the inhabitants of Abtole, and neighboring towns, undertook to offer the Saint an average of wine and bread, from each house. With the ups and downs of the wars, and its geographical border location, Autol passed from one kingdom to another. Thus, it belonged to Navarra until the year 1076 when it came to power in Castile, and in 1115 to the Kingdom of Aragon, until 1134.
After several changes of domination, it was definitively incorporated into Castile in 1176. As a result of the decision of Henry of England, who had been appointed judge to solve the claim of the Castle of Autol to Sancho VI of Navarra, by Alfonso VIII, King of Castile. Hence the presence of the rampant lion wielding a sword that appears on the shield, representing the arbitration of the King of England.
The Castle of Autol was one of four that Don Jaime de Aragón delivered to Don Alonso Lopez de Haro in the year 1262.
King Enrique II of Castile (1369-1379) gifted the Castle and the Manor of Autol to Don Pedro Ximénez de Arnedo, as a reward for his courage and help on the battlefield, during his dispute for this territory, against his brother Don Pedro I The Cruel. Thus, in addition to being head of the King’s Guard, he became the first Lord of Autol. And as such the Title has remained entrusted to the family, in which the surname Puelles predominated (until its disappearance in the 19th century, since in 1837 all said Titles disappeared in Spain).
The County of Autol appears in 1893 when Don Joaquín Garralda Oñate, Life Senator and Captain of the Royal Navy, received this Title by Royal Order, and with hereditary character.
The charm of Autol: the legend of the Picuezo and the Picueza
Among the municipalities of the Cidacos valley, Autol is one of the most attractive.
You can not talk about Autol, without a reference to this jewel of nature it is a geological wonder on the banks of the Cidacos River, two large monoliths with vaguely human forms of 45m one and 30m another to which the magical chisels of time have modeled these mysterious sphinxes, protectors of the territory, and silent witnesses of history, at the foot of the warrior Castillo . They are popularly known as “Picuezo and Picueza” and have given rise to truly fantastic legends.
However, the most widespread legend is that the Lord of the Castle had a very special vineyard, which produced exquisite grapes, that someone was stealing. One night, the guard surprised a couple hiding something in a basket; he asked them to show it, suspecting that they were grapes, to which the couple refused and tempted the devil saying: “that we turn to stone, if they are grapes that we have here”.
The curse fell on them for lying, because they were the grapes of the Lord that they were hiding. Whatever the cause of their conversion into stone, this couple of lovers keeps guard of their eternal love and, sometimes, the habitants of Autol have been surprised by whispering soft words of love. Or maybe it’s just the wind?
No one knows the truth for sure, as nobody knows their origin or who gave them these strange names but the fact that the river and the erosion of the wind have shaped a man and a woman depends on the angle at which you look at the stones. Their forms have been named and both are extraordinary and peculiar figures of great personality that preside in the landscape of Autol.