Cellar Tours Blog

Wines of the Camino de Santiago- Wine Tasting along the Saint James Pilgrimage

Camino de Santiago

This has been a record year for number of pilgrims on the “Camino de Santiago” with visitors coming from all over the world, and travelling clear across the North of Spain to Santiago de Compostela on foot, cycling, horseback, and those with less time available, by car.  The experience is amazing and even life changing for some, and while in centuries and decades past the pilgrimage was purely religious, these days people from all walks of life and religions take part in the Camino for a number of reasons- spiritual, for their health, as a sabbatical or break between professions, and many, as a unique life affirming vacation. Some of Spain´s loveliest cathedrals and medieval towns are located along the camino. And the bonus for wine lovers is that many of Spain´s best wine regions also crisscross the north of the country.

There are  5 main pilgrim routes to Santiago in Spain, and others originating outside Spain in greater Europe but the most popular and traditional of the caminos is the “Camino Francés“, the French Way which starts in French Basque Country and stretches nearly 800 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela. Here are some notes on wine tasting and traveling along the Camino Francés, for food and wine lovers.

1. ST JEAN PIED DE PORT- IROULÉGUY WINE REGION

Wines of the Camino French Pays Basque

Sightseeing: If you have a few days before starting the Camino, explore the French Pays Basques-  Biarritz, the darling fishing village of St Jean de Luz, the picture postcard of Ainhoa, etc.  St Jean Pied de Port itself is a lovely small town as is Roncevalles and St Etienne de Baigorry is in  the heart of Irouleguy wine country.

What to drink: Domaine Arretxea, Domaine Brana, Domaine Ilarria, Domaine Etxegaraya

Where to stay: Stay in a simple room at the Hotel Pyrenee and dine at their Relais & Chateaux restaurant

Wines of the Camino

2. PAMPLONA- NAVARRA WINE REGION

wine tasting on the camino de santiago

Sightseeing: Puente la Reina with its medieval bridge, 18th century Santa Eulalia de Merida church in Etxauri (14 km from Pamplona), the Hemingway trail in Pamplona, the Ermita de Santa Maria de Eunate in Muruzabal, the monastery of Irache (also a winery) with its fuente de vino (a highlight for walkers on the camino with its free wine), the hamlet of Dicastillo, the magnificent fairy tale castle in Olite, the lovely Iglesia de Santa Maria in Tafalla, Ujue with its fortress and the medieval hamlet of Larraga.

What to drink: El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa (Nekeas), Esencia Monjardin, Alzania Seleccion, Ochoa Vino dulce de Moscatel, Calchatas, Guelbenzo Evo, Coleccion 125 Chardonnay fermentada en barrica (Chivite).

Local dishes to try: Bacalao ajoarriero, Esparragos de Navarra, Cordero al Chilindron

Local festivities: The truffle festival in Oloríz in December, The medieval festival of Olite in August and the international folkloric dance festival in Lodosa in July.

Visit wineries (always by appointment): Castillo de Monjardin, Palacio de Muruzabal, Principe de Viana

Where to stay: La Perla in Pamplona, the beautiful Parador in Olite and the Relais & Chateaux El Peregrino in Puente la Reina

Navarra wine map

3. LAGUARDIA- LA RIOJA WINE REGION

wine tasting camino santiago

Sightseeing: Medieval villages like Laguardia, Briones and Ábalos; Tapas (Calle Laurel) and some fine churches in Logroño; the hamlet of Navarrete; beautiful Torremontalbo; Nájera; the extremely important monasteries of San Millán de la Cogolla (birthplace of the Spanish language; and the  Santo Domingo la Calzada is a major stop on the Camino de Santiago.

What to drink:  Tempranillo is king here and Rioja has some amazing producers making both traditional and modern style wines. We love Benjamín Romeo´s Contador, Sierra Cantabria, Remirez de Ganuza, Roda, Hermanos Peciña, Muga, Artadi, Finca Valpiedra and Señorio de San Vicente.

Local dishes to try: menestra de verduras (fresh sauteed local veggies, Rioja is a big vegetable producing part of Spain), alcachofas frescas salteadas con jamón ibérico (sauteed artichokes with cured ham, Bacalao a la Riojana (cod, Rioja style), Chuletillas al sarmiento (baby lamb chops grilled over grape vines).

Where to stay: The Marqués de Riscal wine resort in El Ciego is the most luxurious property (with wine spa and Frank Gehry design) and the Villa de Laguardia is a solid four star outside medieval Laguardia, with a spa offering wine and olive oil treatments. Also recently opened in Laguardia´s main plaza is the Hospederia Los Parajes Inn.

Visit wineries (always by appointment): Darien, Baigorri, Muga, Lopez de Heredia, Juan Alcorta (Campo Viejo).  Luxury wine tours in Rioja, see sample program here.

Local festivities: the “wine battle” of Haro in June, the medieval festival of Briones also in June, another lesser known wine “battle” in San Asensio and an array of harvest festivals

rioja wine map

4. BURGOS- RIBERA DEL DUERO WINE REGION

wine tasting camino santiago

Sightseeing: The magnificent cathedral of Burgos, the pretty historic center of Lerma, Peñafiel with its castle housing a wine museum, the pharmacy of Peñaranda (dating to 1635!) and the medieval village of Covarrubias.

What to drink: Tinto del Pais, otherwise known as Tempranillo is the main grape in this red wine producing region. Top wines include Dominio de Pingus, Vega Sicilia, Pesquera, Mauro, Dominio de Atauta,  Alion, Emilio Moro, Arzuaga, Viña Mayor, Abadia Retuerta, Viña Pedrosa, Pago de los Capellanes and Pago de Carrovejas.

Local dishes to try: Lechazo asado!! This is the definitive local dish, baby lamb roasted in ancient clay or brick ovens. Also, Asparagus from Tudela, Cochinillo (suckling pig), Morcilla de Burgos (black pudding spiced with paprika) and Salchicha de Zaratán are local specialties.

Where to stay: Palacio de la Merced in Burgos, Convento las Claras hotel and spa in Peñafiel, and the gorgeous Parador in Lerma, a 17th century ducal palace.

Visit wineries (always by appointment): Legaris, Matarromera, Prado Rey, Protos, Abadia Retuerta (who just opened a new gastronomic  restaurant onsite). Luxury wine touring options in Ribera here.

wine tasting camino santiago

5. LEON- BIERZO WINE REGION

wine tasting camino santiago

Sightseeing: Leon´s outstanding cathedral, Astorga, Ponferrada with its fairy tale castle (featured in our most beautiful castles in Spain post), unique landscapes in Las Médulas, the abandoned castle of Corullón, the Cistercian monastery of Carracedo.

What to drink:  The land of Mencia! Amazing value red wines here and top bets include Dominio de Tares Cepas Viejas, Paixar, Pétalos del Bierzo

Local dishes to try: “El Botillo” (dating to medieval times), Cecina (cured beef), Cordero asado (roast lamb), Empanada de “batallón”

Where to stay: The Prada a Tope wine estate in Canedo.

wine tasting camino santiago

6. GALICIA- VALDEORRAS

valdeorras

What to see/do: Dine and spa at Spa Pazo do Castro, visit the outrageously baroque retablo in the tiny church of Rubia, the Monastery of Xagoaza (headquarters to the Godeval winery) and check out the Ancient Roman Cigarrosa bridge near the wine producing village of Petín.

What to drink: Godello is the main grape here and our faves are  Valdesil and As Sortes. Other good ones include Joaquin Rebolledo, Godeval and Guitian Fermentado en barrica (Bodegas la Tapada).

7.  GALICIA- RIBEIRA SACRA

ribeira sacra

What to see/do: This is the prettiest of all Galician wine appellations and the riverside scenery is sublime (the Miño and Sil rivers converge here).  Here is a great website in English with a full list of sightseeing options.  Wonderful area.

What to drink: a host of white and red varietals are grown here including Albariño, Treixadura, Loureiro, Torrontés, etc. Uniquely a region known for reds and whites. We love love love Adega Alguiera, as well as Témera, and Dominio do Bibei.

Local Festivities: There are many wine festivals in the region including the charmingly named wine producing area of Sober.

Where to stay: Located in pristine forest and countryside in this beautiful wine region is the delicious Parador of San Estevo, featured in our post on the best wine hotels in Spain.

8.GALICIA- RIBEIRO

Ribeiro

What to see/do: The Monastery of San Salvador in Celanova (founded in 936, although much of what you see now is 16th and 18th century add ons), the curious spas in Cortegada (in a modernista palace) and the tiny but interesting Jewish quarter in the small medieval town of Ribadavia.

What to drink:  Ribeiro is known for its fresh whites and we quite enjoy Viña Mein, not to mention the fab estate of Pazo Casanova.

9.GALICIA- RIAS BAIXAS

rias_baixas

What to see/do:  Stay at the Parador of Baiona, one of the most scenically perched Parador hotels in Spain. Cambados is a quaint fishing village.  And the Cies islands are to die for, rent a private boat to explore.

What to drink: Albariño, but of course! Considered the most elegant white wine in Spain, the Albariño grape flourishes in the vineyards of this area (Rias Baixas translates as “low rivers”, referring to the estuaries in southern Galicia). Top producers include: Fefiñanes,  Pazo de Barrantes (owned by Rioja´s Marques de Murrieta), Pazo de Señoráns, Terras Gaudas, and Lagar de Fornelos. The Martin Codax brand is probably the most popular Albariño abroad, and one you are likely to find back home.

10. SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA!

santiago_compostela

Sightseeing: The cathedral is of course the first stop for pilgrims and the energy here at the end of the camino is amazing, with people from all over the world descending on the cathedral and then the bars and restaurants of the old town. The fun thing to do here is just get lost in the old town and taste food and wine along the way.

What to drink: The tapas bars in Santiago serve Albariño in pretty ceramic cups and it is hard to find a bad house Albarino! The zippy white wine pairs perfectly with specialties like Pulpo a la Gallega (octopus drizzled in olive oil and smoked Spanish paprika).

Where to stay: For us, there is only one place to stay in Santiago itself and that is is at the beautiful Parador, which breathes history and romance.

POST CAMINO WINE EXPLORING:

The Douro Valley is only a few hours south and Northern Portugal is a treat for those looking for fabulous food and wine and unspoiled wine country.

wine tasting on the camino de santiago

Ten Best Wine Hotels in Spain

Posted by gen On October - 28 - 2008

Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel Spain

Spain is home to some of the most fabulous wine regions in Europe (including La Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Penedès, Priorat, Sherry, Toro, Navarra, Somontano, Rias Baixas, Ribera Sacra, Rueda and many other appellations)  and more and more the concept of a wine hotel (either a working winery with accommodation or  a hotel set amid the vineyards) is taking off.  A list of some of the best wine hotels in Spain to help you plan your next wine tasting vacation in Spain-

Hacienda Zorita, Salamanca

The Hacienda Zorita is a romantic and relaxing estate (part of the Haciendas de España wine hotel chain, leaders in wine tourism in Spain) to enjoy a weekend break near the beautiful city of Salamanca. Read a full review of the hotel here. More info on hotel here.

More info on Salamanca

Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel Spain Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel Spain

Hacienda Abascal – Ribera del Duero

Also belonging to Haciendas de España, the Abascal estate is located right on the “Golden Mile” in Ribera del Duero, home to such famed wine estates as Vega Sicilia, Arzuaga and Viña Mayor. The stunning Abadia Retuerta estate is around the corner, too, so this is a great based to explore some wineries for a few days. the Abascal has stylish rooms, a new and exciting restaurant called The Durius Café, run by mythical Spanish chef Sergi Arola. The views from nearly every point in this hotel are of vineyards and in autumn, it is simply gorgeous with the flaming red and orange leaves blanketing the plains. More info on the hotel here.

Hacienda Abascal Wine Hotel Spain Hacienda Abascal Wine Hotel Spain

Hacienda Unamuno, Arribes del Duero

 Hacienda Unamuno Wine Hotel Spain

The smallest of the Haciendas de España group, and most intimate located in the dramatic Arribes del Duero wine country near the Portuguese border. This area is a protected nature reserve and pristine, and for a romantic and revitalizing weekend or even week long stay, this could be a fantastic base to explore the nearby wine country (Toro and Ribera del Duero are not far, and you can easily do day trips into Portugal as well as the historic city of Zamora). The “hotelito” is located inside a beautiful historic farmhouse, and is named after the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno. The vibe is very artsy and plenty of stressed out professionals from big cities come here to relax. Apart from winetasting onsite you can also do cheese tastings and olive oil tastings from their collection of properties. The hotel can arrange romantic picnics and private dinners for two as well. More info on the Haciendas de España website.

Hacienda Unamuno Wine Hotel Spain Hacienda Unamuno Wine Hotel Spain

Can Bonastre in Penedès, close to Barcelona

Can Bonastre Wine Resort Spain

This luxurious wine resort has extensive manicured grounds, views of the Montserrat mountains, an in-house beautiful winery, fashionable bedrooms, and a gourmet hotspot restaurant (called Tribia, this is the best restaurant in the region at present and you can expect goodies like exquisite Arbequina olive oil, and Rosé Cava from the Can Bonastre estate). What more could you ask for? Oh, and they have helipads for VIPs as well! The perfect base to use while exploring the Penedès wine country taking in visits to big names like Torres and Codorniu and boutique cellars like Albet i Noia and Jean Leon. Highly highly recommended hotel!  More info on Can Bonastre here.

More info on Penedès wine region

More info on wineries in the Penedès

Profile of Barcelona

Can Bonastre Wine Hotel Spain Can Bonastre Wine Hotel Spain

Marqués de Riscal, El Ciego, La Rioja

The “ultimate” luxury wine hotel in Spain, here is our newsletter review of this stunning property designed by Frank Gehry (who also designed the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, among numerous other high profile projects around the world).

More info on La Rioja wine region

City profile of Laguardia, located about 5 minutes from the hotel

Marques de Riscal Wine Hotel Spain Marques de Riscal Wine Hotel Spain

Parador Monasterio de Santo Estevo, close to Ribera Sacra, Galicia

This newly inaugurated Parador hotel is FABULOUS and we used it as a base to discover the wine country of Ribera Sacra, Galicia´s most beautiful and undiscovered wine region.  The hotel is located in a historic Benedictine monastery that has been revamped with elegant and innovative decoration and the views from our room over the lush grounds are stunning. More info on hotel here.

Info on Santiago de Compostela, Galicia´s most beautiful town

Info on Rias Baixas, the most prominent Galician wine region

Parador Monasterio de Santo Estevo Wine Hotel Spain Parador Monasterio de Santo Estevo Wine Hotel Spain

Pago de Cirsus, Navarra

Navarra is one of the least explored wine regions in Spain and yet one of the most interesting. You have stunning medieval towns like Olite with its spectacular castle, and miles upon miles of unspoiled wine country. The exclusive Pago de Cirsus hotel is for lovers of the “buena vida”. There is a 16th century fortress, a high-end winery and an excellent restaurant (with a gastronomic focus on the best products of Navarra, especially vegetables). Expect beautiful grounds, luxurious rooms and a lovely garden. More info here.

Pago Cirsus Wine Hotel Spain Pago Cirsus Wine Hotel Spain

Palacio de Garvey, Jerez (Sherry Country)

Palacio Garvey in Jerez Wine Hotel Spain

Jerez is unique in Spain in that the bodegas (wineries) are located right in the historic center, whereas the vineyards are spread out throughout various provinces. So you can go wine tasting right downtown, by foot! We love the Palacio Garvey hotel as it is in a prime, central location and it merges its palatial architecture with contemporary and ultra stylish decor. The restaurant is EXCELLENT with good wine service. Apart from Sherry wines you can also taste an array of superb red wines from beautiful Ronda, also in Andalusia. The Palacio Garvey has many special touches from complimentary wine upon arrival, clawfoot romantic bathtubs, and four poster beds with sublime sheets. Highly recommended if you are visiting Jerez.

Info on Jerez

Info on Sherry

List of wine producers to visit

Palacio Garvey in Jerez Wine Hotel Spain Palacio Garvey in Jerez Wine Hotel Spain Palacio Garvey in Jerez Wine Hotel Spain

Pago del Vicario, La Mancha

In the vast plains of La Mancha, land of Don Quixote, a vinous Renaissance is taking place with countless new winery projects (many whose investments are in the multi-millions of euros) and things are-a- shaking regards to wine tourism. One of the most interesting winery cum hotels is Paco del Vicario, whose rosé is one of the most exciting rosés in Spain. The hotel is decorated extremely tastefully with rich colors (burgundy, cream, eggplant, beige, gold, so forth) and modern flourishes (there are a few zebra stripes here). You can visit the winery of course while staying here, dine in the excellent restaurant and visit other wineries in the area. The beautiful town of Almagro, known for its wonderful classical theatre festival, is only 30 km from here and an easy half day excursion.

Pago del Vicario Wine Hotel Spain Pago del Vicario Wine Hotel Spain

More info on Pago Vicario wine hotel

Palacio Canedo, Prada a tope Winery, Bierzo

Bierzo is the new “it” region in Spain, extremely exciting for wine lovers. It is also an unspoiled and very picturesque region located southeast of Galicia. The Prada a Tope winery is one of the oldest and most famous and they have an entire working farm making everything from wines to candied chestnuts to marinated peppers and much more. Whereas the other hotels in this list are quite luxurious and contemporary, the Palacio Canedo (the name of this winery´s rustic inn) is romantically rustic. The ideal time to come would be autumn, after harvest when the vineyards are at their most beautiful and when it is cold enough to light the onsite fireplaces.

Palacio Canedo Wine Hotel Spain Palacio Canedo Wine Hotel Spain

More info on Palacio Canedo

More info on the Bierzo wine region

More info on Leon, a nearby Spanish city on the Saint James pilgrimage route

General information on Spanish Wine Regions

Coming next year- Abadia Retuerta Luxury Wine Hotel in Ribera del Duero, this will be fantastic! More info here.