La Rioja Revelations: Six Essential Must-Do Wine Activities in Spain's Premier Wine Region
La Rioja stands as one of the most revered wine-producing regions in Spain. Renowned worldwide, the wines crafted here have been captivating palates far beyond Spanish borders. From the verdant vineyards that stretch as far as the horizon to the centuries-old wineries that guard the secrets of time-honored traditions, La Rioja stands as an epitome of vinicultural excellence.
As if that weren't remarkable enough, the region also stands as a pioneering force in the realm of wine tourism! Numerous wineries open their doors to visitors to show their vineyards and showcase the work of the winemakers, the secrets of making wine barrels, and the storage areas of legendary collectible wines. Many wineries, with their futuristic designs, resemble modern "temples of wine" where apart from an unforgettable experience, you can even take part in an educational tasting, after which you will receive a diploma.
In this article:
1. Visit Outstanding Wineries in La Rioja
Bodega Loli Casado
📍Lapuebla de Labarca, Araba
Loli Casado invite you with a glass in hand and guided by the winemaker, you'll unveil the secrets that make Rioja’s wines extraordinary. From the vineyard's age-old vines to the cellar's hidden chambers, you'll indulge in tastings that reveal the artistry of local winemaking, culminating in a garden with a local-flavored aperitif.
📍Haro, La Rioja
CVNE, founded in 1879 by the Real de Asúa brothers in Haro, Rioja, remains under the stewardship of the same family's 5th generation. Recognized as Spain's foremost wine by Wine Spectator, their Imperial wine has become an iconic representation of Rioja, embodying the essence of Haro with its seriousness, austerity, subtlety, refinement, freshness, and balance.
Contino, the pioneering Rioja château established in 1973, boasts a rich history dating back to the 16th century. Blending the perfect combination of soils, a unique Atlantic-Mediterranean climate, and refined techniques, Contino has emerged as a benchmark product both within Spain and abroad.
Bodegas Palacio, a historic winery founded in 1894 by Don Cosme Palacio y Bermejillo, has left an indelible mark on the Rioja appellation. Pioneering innovative techniques, it played a vital role in shaping the modern era of Rioja wines.
Marqués de Riscal
Winery/Hotel Marqués de Riscal is one of the most recognisable impressive architecturale wineries worldwide. This is an essential place to visit, is a real temple of wine. Founded in 1858 Marqués de Riscal has always been an innovative, trailblazing cellar and a reference in a continuously evolving winemaking industry. They want to create wines that are unique, fresh, elegant, and simple to drink. A sublime place with its atypical architecture!
In addition to the vineyard, the venue includes a Luxury hotel, restaurants and a spa Vinotherapie associated with Caudalie .
The winery of Ysios has a superb architecture with the signature curves of Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. In the background, the Sierra Cantabrica brings a dramatic contrast. Bodega Ysios is a small-scale vineyards that reap all of the benefits of this area in terms of growing high-quality grapes. The vineyards of Ysios are molded by the various components that come together in the region: winemaking tradition, as well as a variety of microclimates and soils.
El Barrio de la Estación
A set of several wineries within a walkable distance. You will find Viña Tondonia, Roda, Muga, Cune and more. Discover the architecture and the tales hidden behind the walls of El Barrio de la Estación or the District Station as you travel through its streets and stop at some of its wineries' most famous locations. Most have wine bars where you can taste a selection.
If you prefer a visit, you can opt for a guided tour of the district, this includes a stop at the most important places including three wineries, as well as a wine and a tapas in each of the establishments.
2. Explore the Wine Routes
Wine traveling in Rioja DOC can be more fulfilling if you join one of the wine routes that bring you through the most interesting wineries, restaurants, museums, and cultural heritage sites in the area. For example, La Ruta del Vino de Rioja Alavesa includes more than 140 different establishments ranging from restaurants and tasting rooms to museums. This route passes through towns and villages, most of which have preserved their medieval appearances, such as Laguardia or Labastida.
Another route, La Ruta del Vino de Rioja Alta, runs through the area where the Spanish wine industry began to develop. On the way you will often encounter historical and architectural monuments, such as the Monastery of San Millán de la Cogollo, which is considered the cradle of the classical Spanish language and in 1997 was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site of Humanity.
3. Walk in the Bacchus Garden
Vivanco Wine Culture Museum, known as one of the best wine museums in the world, is sure to surprise you. Located in the picturesque village of Briones It is an ideal place to learn a lot about the history of wine. All that while marveling at the art worlds painted by Picasso, Sorolla, and other great masters. After this artistic immersion, you’re invited to the tasting by a professional oenologist, followed by a walk in the Bacchus Garden, where you’ll see more than 220 grape varieties from all over the world.
4. Participate in Wine Battles and Festivals
The main events of the region are the wine festivals, which take place in several localities. Some of them are known far beyond their provinces, attracting thousands of visitors from all parts of the globe. In the town of Haro, the famous Wine Battle takes place on the 29th of June where the participants, dressed in white, pour red wine over each other from buckets, canisters, and other containers.
On September 21 in Logroño, the locals celebrate the San Mateo festival, the wine harvest festival, which is accompanied by a theatrical parade and tasting of local wine and delicacies.
5. Get Your Tapas in Logroño
Laurel Street is the most famous “tapas haven” in the capital of La Rioja. Hop from bar to bar, trying all kinds of small snacks, called tapas in Spain. You'll find an endless assortment of appetizers (also known as "pinchos") on the bar counters of the local establishments. In addition, each bar has its own signature "tapas". Of course, you will be offered local wines made to pair with your gourmet bites. And as enjoy the lively atmosphere of this street, we should warn you - it’s very hard to leave!
6. Bid Adios to the Ordinary on Board the Wine Train
Embark on a journey aboard the Wine Train and bid adios to the ordinary. Introducing "Rioja and the Five Senses," a program dedicated to celebrating the region's rich wine culture. Every year, in the months of March, May, June, September, and November, this extraordinary event takes place. As the train winds its way from Logroño to Haro, it offers you the chance to visit renowned wineries along the route. You'll meet your fellow travelers dressed in historic attire, beautifully re-enacting scenes from the busy tapestry of local winemaking history. The Wine Train transports you to a world where wine and tradition intertwine!
Extraordinary Experiences Await!
Beyond the traditional vineyard tours and tastings, La Rioja offers an array of extraordinary experiences that elevate the journey to new heights. Glide above the picturesque vineyards in a hot air balloon, allowing the stunning landscape to unfold beneath you. Embark on horseback adventures, exploring the scenic countryside while immersing yourself in the wine culture. Indulge in luxurious wine spas, where the essence of Rioja's wines intertwines with rejuvenating wellness treatments With its blend of breathtaking scenery, rich cultural heritage, and world-class wines, Rioja undeniably reigns as the premier destination for wine enthusiasts. So what are you waiting for? Vamos!