Rioja is situated in the north of Spain, south of Bilbao, between the rivers Oja and Ebro. The region has three distinct zones, Rioja Alavesa in the north, Rioja Alta in the highlands to the south (both around 400-500m above sea level) and Rioja Baja (around 300m above sea level), which borders Navarra to the east.
Traditionally Rioja has been known for its deep red, oak flavoured wines but with changing tastes and increased competition with the New World wines, producers decided to modernise and add more fresh fruit flavours. The result has been a booming export market, particularly to the UK.
There are several ways to plan a wine tasting holiday in La Rioja but probably the most popular is to simply book a flight and find some near by accommodation for your stay.
Getting to La Rioja
The nearest regional airports to the Rioja area and its wineries are Bilbao and Logroño-Agoncillo. Although a few direct flights to Bilbao are available, if travelling to the smaller airport of Logroño-Agoncillo you would first need to take a flight to Madrid or Barcelona and then continue on the second part of your journey. Of course, you could combine your air journey with travelling from your first stop to the Rioja region by car or public transport if you prefer. As far as flights flights to Spain are concerned, they are widely available so should not present too much of a problem.
Where to Stay in the La Rioja Region
Accommodation in the area is varied but most people prefer the self catering variety as this enables them to try the gastronomic delights as well as the wine on offer at local restaurants and hotels. For the most part, the self catering accommodation is in large country houses dotted around the area. However, if you are looking to stay in a hotel there are several which may be to your liking. Hotels such as El Hotel Rural Villa de Abalos in Abalos, Hotel Marques de Riscal in Elciego and Hospederia Senorio de Casalarreina, based in Casalarreina are just a few of the very popular hotels amongst people holidaying in the Rioja area, and all boast well appointed clean and comfortable rooms for their guests with many having stunning views of the region.
Where to Visit in the Wine Region
The Rioja wine region is split into three sub divisions. These are the two cooler climates of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa and the hotter area of Rioja Baja. When visiting Spain’s largest and most popular wine tasting area, you will find that although Logroño is known as the capital, the real heart of the region is, without doubt, Haro which is around forty kilometres away. Cune, La Rioja Alta and Muga are just some of the areas most prominent bodegas and within easy driving access you will find numerous wineries of top class standard, namely Bodegas Palacio Haro, Marqués de Cáceres, Marqués de Riscal, and Remelluri along with many many more.
Although quite a few of the wineries will allow you to join in with a guided tour if you happen to arrive just at the right time, it is really advisable to make an appointment at a pre-scheduled time in order to avoid disappointment.
If you would like to have the wine-tasting completely prearranged for you, then the simple and straightforward way to do this is to book yourself onto an organised winery tour beginning locally or from as far afield as Bilbao or Madrid.
Private Rioja Wine Tours
Wine tours to the Rioja region are still a relatively new phenomenon in spite of the wine’s popularity overseas.
Bilbao to Rioja (Ref:1032)
Chauffeur Driven Tour of the Rioja Wine Region
Starting From: Bilbao
Duration: 3 Days / 2 Nights
Type: Chauffeur Driven Tour
In recent years Bilbao has become a major tourist destination thanks to the locating there of the Guggenheim museum. This private wine tour allows you to combine a visit to Bilbao with a VIP tour of selected wineries in the Rioja region.
Transport on this tour is by fully-equipped Mercedes Class E for 2 People and by Mercedes Class V for 4 to 6 People. Throughout the trip you will have the services of an English speaking chauffeur who is very knowledgeable about the wines of the Rioja area and will take you to wine tastings at some of the regions most famous wineries.
Two nights accommodation is in a 4-star Wine Country Hotel located amongst the vines of the 13th century village of Laguardia where you can dine at a selection of traditional restaurants with fine Riojan cuisine.
Bilbao to Rioja (Ref:1234)
Private Day Wine Tour of La Rioja from Bilbao
Starting From: Bilbao
Duration: 1 Day (Approx: 8 Hours)
Type: Full Day Tour
Enjoy a private wine day tour from Bilbao to visit the famous wine region of La Rioja. Take a in-depth look at the sub-zone of Rioja Alta and Alavesa.
Walking Tour of Haro (Ref:1230)
Walking Wine Tour of Haro in the Heart of La Rioja
Starting From: Haro
Duration: ½ Day (Approx: 5 Hours)
Type: Walking Tour
Half Day private walking to of Haro, the heart of Rioja wines. Visit a winery and then enjoy a tapas tour of quaint wine taverns.