The story of the region now known as La Rioja is the story of Spain writ large...
Phoenician, Roman, Visigoth and Muslim occupiers all had their turn before pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela passed through during the Middle Ages. By the time Napoleon arrived in the early 19th century, Rioja was a region famed for its wines, exporting as far as Cuba and Mexico.
The vineyards planted by the Phoenicians and the Romans no longer surround us as we travel through the many hills and compact villages of the beautiful River Ebro valley. There is so much to see here, that you could spend a week exploring the region without happening upon a winery… and yet, it is home to more than 1,200 of them.
We only visit the very best on tour. Our Wine Guide will introduce us to the world renowned vineyards and wines of Marques de Murrieta and Contino as well as those of lesser known but fabulous producers. Blessed with a backdrop of the mountains of the Iberian System, the region is home to some stunning contemporary architecture. The juxtaposition of nature with chrome and glass brings people from all over the world.
Tempranillo is Rioja’s ‘big grape’. It grows practically everywhere, but this is its homeland. From the first drop, you’re hit with a pleasant mix (as strange as it sounds) of leather and cherry. It pairs beautifully with rich meat dishes. If you enjoy a structured Cabernet Sauvignon or fruity Grenache, you’re sure to enjoy Tempranillo.
- Visit the Santa María la Real of Nájera - a monastery with ornate woodwork, famous as the burial place of more than thirty royals, and a major stop on the Camino de Santiago
- Enjoy an optional tour of the Dinosaur Route, where some of the largest dinosaurs ever to walk the earth are believed to be buried
- Go hands on with a Spanish cookery lesson, and pair your freshly-made culinary creation with the perfect wine at lunch
Rioja vineyards enjoy the warm climate of northern Spain, contributing to their ripe fruit and mineral flavours. Rioja’s star grape is Tempranillo, a black grape that gives birth to full-bodied, ruby red wines, but we will also explore excellent garnacha (Grenache) and graciano based wines in neighbouring Navarra.