Rioja guides, wineries

Jan 8th, 2019, 09:48 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 15
Rioja guides, wineries

We are planning to spend 3 nights in the Rioja area on our way from San Sebastian to Barcelona. While we've been to both of those cities before, we have never been to the wine country and are looking forward to exploring it. We will not have a car, but could rent one if necessary. I would like advice on a couple of things. We will not have a car, but could rent one if necessary. I began looking at Rioja tours and am finding them to be quite expensive. We are used to traveling independently, and I'm wondering if choosing the wineries and making our own reservations for touring them is easy enough to do. (We do not speak Spanish.) My husband thinks it might be helpful to hire a guide who could book winery reservations, suggest places to stay, etc. So my first request is for suggestions for a guide that you've used. Did the guide have a car, or drive yours? Was s/he knowledgeable about the area and the wineries that would best meet your interests? Next, where would be a good place to base for three nights, including suggestions for where to stay? We prefer smaller - but not too small - towns. After doing some reading, it sounds like Laguardia might be a good place to base. I know there is a wine festival in Logrono around the time we might be there. Have you ever been to that festival? Is it too crowded to be worth going to see? Which wineries are your favorites to visit and why?
I would appreciate any advice your have for touring the area for a few days.
marsha1340 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2019, 11:40 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,372
Laguardia, a small walled medieval town with wineries inside that you can visit, would be the perfect place for your stay. Logroño is kind of a big city and can´t compare to Laguardia. Haro would be my next option, due to its proximity to the wineries at the Barrio de la Estación (you can get there on foot), but it has much less flavor than Laguardia.

Many wineries offer tours in English at certain times. My favorite ones are those less touristy (I´d avoid Eguren Ugarte, Marqués de Riscal, CVNE and other big names) and would focus on small, family owned ones (in Rioja Alavesa, the Basque Rioja where Laguardia is located -Haro is in Rioja Alta- there are 350 wineries, I believe. I like Ostatu, Alútiz, Tritium, Casa Primicia, Gómez Cruzado...

Plenty of prehistorical remains in the area (Santa María de la Piscina and 10th century tombs, Dolmen de la Hechicera, the atheist cemetery, and so on...). Don´t miss Sajazarra, in Rioja Alta, close to Haro and just a 20min drive from Laguardia.
mikelg is offline  
Jan 8th, 2019, 05:01 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 1,076
Wine touring in the Rioja

You don't mention how you are planning on getting from San Sebastián-Donostia to the Rioja and then on to Barcelona, but the options are limited. Laguardia is a 2-1/2 hour drive from San Sebastián and the bus service to the area is limited, so that leaves you with doing a private transfer, taking a taxi or renting a car and driving. There is only limited rail service from Logroño to Barcelona.

Mikel has given you some good information. You can do a small group guided tour if you are staying in the Rioja starting at about 195€/person (transportation and lunch included), which is perfect for someone not familiar with the area and doesn't speak Spanish, because as Mikel noted, most wineries offer tours in English on a limited basis only, so it's not a problem if your going with a guide - https://tinyurl.com/ybpm3gg4

If you want to hire an experienced car and driver (very few available in the area), it will cost about 300€ for up to 6 hours and about 380€ for up to 8 hours, plus 40€/hour for each additional hour and 25€ for lunch.

If you want to do a self-guided tour, and don't speak Spanish, then it takes some planning. Reservations are requited ​​​​and you want to avoid from those wineries that attract large groups.

You might also want to read a guide or two to the Rioja - https://tinyurl.com/ybdne3yw
Robert2016 is online now  
Jan 8th, 2019, 06:13 PM
  #4  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,238
I stayed in Laguardia and loved it! I had a car, which gave me a lot of options, but it did mean sip-and-spit for most of the wineries I visited (some are within walking distance of Laguardia).

If you haven't seen it, you might find some useful information in my trip report:
Four Awesome Weeks in the North of Spain and Catalunya

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Jan 9th, 2019, 12:22 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,411
Reservations are required in most places, not hard to do but get it done before travel to Spain. We liked Haro as it is very walkable.
bilboburgler is offline  
Jan 9th, 2019, 01:03 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 15
Thanks for your helpful advice, Mikelg.
marsha1340 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2019, 01:05 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 15
Thanks for your helpful advice, Robert
marsha1340 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2019, 01:08 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 15
Thanks to all who have replied to my query. That is a helpful start.
marsha1340 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2019, 01:19 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 15
Rioja guides, wineries

By the way, the suggestion for using Maribel guides is a good one. We've used the guides for our last two trips to Spain and think they are the best. Has anyone used the travel agency associated with Maribel guides?
marsha1340 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2019, 02:38 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,742
Best to get a rental car to travel to this region but not needed to visit some of the bodegas.

I spent 2 nights in Haro and walked to/from these bodegas: Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana (CVNE), Muga, La Rioja Alta, R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia. Also, visited a couple of wine bars in the town.

I also spent 2 nights in Laguardia and walked to/from these bodegas: Bodega El Fabulista, Bodegas Campillo, and Bodega Casa Primicia.

Drove to Ysis and Bodegas Marques de Riscal just for the photo ops, didn't do a tasting at these two.

I didn't have any reservations but wasn't doing tours, just did the tastings. I've done so many winery tours that I didn't see the need for another. But, did want to taste the wine!
joannyc is online now  
Jan 9th, 2019, 04:30 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 1,076
Why visit a bodega in the Rioja

" I've done so many winery tours that I didn't see the need for another. But, did want to taste the wine!" You can do that at any good wine bar in Logroño or elsewhere in Spain.

So why go to the Rioja? Part of the wine touring experience is finding out how different wineries create their own unique wines and who makes the decision. Luis Cañas is different from Viñedos y Bodegas de la Marquesa - Valserrano, yet they are only a few minutes walk away from each other in the small village of Villabuena de Álava. The wines of Bodegas Ostatu and Bodegas Baigorri are completely different and yet they sit arcoss the road from one and other and produce their wines using similar but using slightly different approaches, something you wouldn't know if you didn't take a walk around the winery with the wine maker or someone familiar with the process.



In the cellar at Bodega Torre de Oña
Robert2016 is online now  
Jan 9th, 2019, 05:53 PM
  #12  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,238
I definitely wanted to visit the wineries when I was in the area, for exactly the reasons Robert notes -- unlike wineries in many wine-producing regions, the tours of those in the Rioja highlight some differences in grape growing, wine making, and wine storage that I thought absolutely fascinating! Reservations were necessary for all the wineries I visited (listed in my report, linked above).

As already mentioned, you can walk to a number of wineries from either Haro or Laguardia. If you rent a car, do, please, sip & spit -- and even then, limit your sipping.
kja is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
welovetravel
Europe
25
Jul 10th, 2017 07:41 AM
mraeneas
Europe
8
Oct 24th, 2013 05:24 AM
JulieVikmanis
Europe
26
Jun 20th, 2009 11:17 AM
Kath
Europe
4
Jun 8th, 2002 07:44 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:07 PM.