The perfectly aligned vineyards in green and ochre and the wide cereal fields that appear on the horizon, shining bright gold under the sun of the plateau, must surely be one of the defining images of la Ribera del Duero. However, this landscape of the high plateau that suddenly gives way to tilled land is more than just a landscape. It is where nature competes against the character of its inhabitants in an austere and sober setting.
The landscape of la Ribera del Duero contains treasures, as if enclosed within a chest formed of fertile clods of clay and limestone, tree-filled gardens that are dotted around the area: its forests, some small and some extremely large, where Scots pines, holm oaks, dyer’s oaks, pitch pines, creeping junipers and spreading junipers all grow.
Also worth mentioning are the forests of la Ribera, which, fed by the great River Duero and its tributaries , could not be any less splendid than the current that gives them their name. Those which adorn and give a green border to the courses of the Duero and the Riaza, as well as being the largest, are also a major sanctuary for many forest birds of prey and other bird species, as well as roe deer, martens, wild boars and otters.
Away from the murmur of the main river currents, and frightened away by the agricultural activity that for centuries has defined the economy of these lands, the open spaces of Ribera del Duero are concentrated on the borders of the region and constitute a natural habitat for wolves, mountain cats and badgers. In these forest areas, and also in various rocky outcrops, there are royal, booted and short-toed eagles and peregrine falcons, griffon vultures and Egyptian vultures. The plateaux of Cerrato (in the northeast) and of Casanova (in the southeast) form the ideal habitat for steppic birds, with the presence of gangas, little bustards, southern lapwings, black-bellied sandgrouse and even great bustards.
However, as we have stated earlier, it is without doubt the river arteries that give life to la Ribera del Duero. The River Riaza makes its way down from the ravines that hide its source to nourish beautiful groves where alders, black poplars and willows grow, forming tree-lined corridors that host a great quantity and variety of birds and fauna and which give access to more northern birds, such as the common thrush and the red-backed shrike.