A tour of the Riojan wine country that contrasts cutting edge & historic architecture, wines and cuisine
La Rioja is without a doubt Spain´s most beautiful wine region, and an absolute treat for the food and wine lover! The landcsapes are of gentle rolling vineyard covered hills, pretty medieval hamlets and the backdrop of the majestic Cantabrian mountains. Rioja is pristine and unspoiled, even with all of the major investment that has come into this wine region in recent years including the spectacular Frank Gehry designed hotel at the Marques de Riscal winery. We have designed this luxurious wine tasting tour in La Rioja to give you an opportunity to experience the best of La Rioja- the best wine estates, the best restaurants, the best scenic drives and the most picturesque villages. The Rioja wines are legendary, and you are going to taste some magnificent wines from high-end classics like Torre Muga and Sierra Cantabria´s Finca El Bosque to contemporary masterpieces like Marqués de Murrieta´s Dalmau, Artadi´s Pago Viejos, Ramon Bilbao´s Mirto and Remirez de Ganuza´s Trasnocho.
You´ll visit a range of wineries including tiny, historic family run wine caves (called “Calaos”) as well as ultra prestigious estates like Roda (who also make stunning olive oils that you´ll have the chance to taste). And you´ll have many memorable gastronomic experiences at a mix of restaurants, from cozy and authentic Riojano to creative and innovative Basque cuisine. Traditional dishes you might taste this tour include “Gallina en Pepitoria a la Riojana” (a colonial recipe, using slow cooked hen in a Rioja white wine sauce), “Perdiz asada al Rioja Tinto” (roast partridge flambeéd in Spanish brandy before being cooked in wine) and “Patatas a la Riojana” (country potatoes cooked with delicious Chorizo sausages, Papika and “Guindilla” chili pepper). Your base for the tour is at the luxurious wine hotel at Marqués de Riscal, in a small wine village with views of the vineyard-covered valleys surrounding it. If you are looking for a short, luxurious wine tasting break in Spain, contact us for information on this superb tour.
Below is a suggested Day By Day Itinerary for your private La Rioja Wine Tour
Day One - Tasting Menu Paire with Local Rojan Wine
Rioja vineyards at harvest
Arrive to Bilbao airport, a beautiful, white geometric structure designed by famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. You will be collected by luxury Mercedes and your elegant driver guide. You have an exciting day ahead! A phenomenal lunch will be waiting for you at the mythical gourmet Etxebarri restaurant in a pretty hamlet south of Bilbao. Chef Bitor (Basque for Victor) Arguinzoniz is known as Spain´s best “Grill Master Extraordinaire” and indeed, all of the dishes here are cooked to perfection over the open fire. Specialties include grilled mushrooms with a mushroom “cappuccino”, on an eggplant and potato confit; cod broiled over an evergreen oak fired grill; and grilled oysters!
You´ll have a VIP chef´s welcome, and a tasting menu prepared for you on the spot with the chef based on your preferences. Fine wines will accompany the lunch today, for example from the Murrieta estate. After lunch, drive south to the Rioja wine region, stopping outside Briones for a visit to Europe´s largest and most impressive wine museum, Dinastia Vivanco. Spend an hour or two exploring this fascinating museum´s many displays such as the glass blowing and cork making exhibitions. The lovely village of Briones is up next and you can see their marvellous Baroque church and pretty main square where the annual medieval wine festival is held. Before arriving to your hotel, you will have a unique wine cave visit where a charming family still make wines in the ancient Riojano tradition. Finally, in the early evening, you will check into your luxurious hotel where dinner will be on your own. Bienvenidos a La Rioja!
Overnight: 5* Luxury hotel, Rioja
Meals Included in Price: Gourmet Tasting Lunch with wine pairings, Welcome bottle of wine in room on first night
Transfers: Bilbao airport- Vizcaya- El Ciego
Day Two - VIP Tastings at Remirez de Ganuza & Marques de Vargas
Wine tasting in a castle
This morning you will see the darling little wine hamlet of Samaniego, with its noble mansions, country church and stunning setting. Your first wine tour of the day is to our favorite boutique cellar, Remirez de Ganuza. You will get to stomp in the vineyard first, to learn all about Rioja´s native grape varietals and the style of viticulture they use. Carry on to a tour of the winery and a private VIP tasting of the best wines including various Reserva wines and the flagship Trasnocho.
Lunch is next at the utterly atmospheric Vieja Bodega. One of the best restaurants regards to food and ambiance in Northern Spain. The chef will prepare a tasting menu lunch for you paired with local wines, enjoy this treat.
After a long and entertaining lunch, head to the hamlet of Cuzcurrita. Before your wine tour, take half an hour to explore the village, get some photos and digest. Then arrive to the second winery of the day, the Castillo de Cuzcurrita, with an actual castle! This prestigious winery only makes Reserva quality wines, and is a nice contrast to the cellars you have seen so far.Your exuberant host will delight you and you´ll have a private VIP tour and tasting, before travelling on to the hill-topped village of Laguardia. Once a best kept secret, Laguardia has finally begun to receive foreign visitors as the word has spread how cute this little hamlet is! You will see for yourself and enjoy some free time here to take the beautiful walk along the ancient walls, check out some of its wine and gourmet shops, have an aperitif in the main plaza, etc. From the panoramic lookout point in Laguardia you can see Santiago Calatrava´s Ysios winery below in the valley and vineyards panning out for miles in all directions. In the early evening, your driver will take you back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. Tonight you will dine at another of our favorites, a Riojan gem in the captivating village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra. Enjoy a tasting menu paired with sublime wines.
Overnight: 5* Luxury hotel, Rioja
Meals Included in Price:Full Breakfast, Gourmet Lunch with wine, Gourmet Dinner with wine
Transfers: El Ciego- Samaniego- Logroño- Laguardia- San Vicente de la Sonsierra- hotel
Day Three - Private Tasting at Ramon Bilbao & Roda, Lunch at Las Duelas
Captivating barrique cellar at Roda
A terrific contrast of estates will be shown to you today, amazing experiences. Begin with a visit to the Valenciso winery, just outside of medieval Ollauri. This estate produces outstanding 100% Tempranillo based Reserva prestige wines as well as a delicious Riojan white, made with Viura and Garnacha Blanca. The charming owner luis leads the private tour and tasting and this is an intimate tour for our special guests. From Valenciso, carry on to the wine hub of Haro, where you will visit Roda, one of our all-time favorites in Spain. This newish company (only created in the late 1980´s) makes fresh, modern style Rioja wines. Roda I and Roda II are consistent award winners, as well as their elite small production Cirsión wine. The winery is sleek and fashionable and you´ll have a private tour and exclusive tasting of their best wines and award winning olive oils.
Lunch will follow in Haro at the delightful Las Duelas, whose consulting chef is Michelin starred Pedro Subijana (of 3 Michelin starred Akelarre, in San Sebastian). A tasting menu paired with fine wines will be organized for you in their atmospheric dining room. Bilbao is next, and after a long, convivial lunch you will sit back and enjoy the drive back to the Basque Country. Arrive to your hotel and check in. Your design hotel is located just opposite the Guggenheim and you will have views of it from your junior suite. At your leisure, cross the street for a visit to this spectacular museum, a giant titanium ripple of undulating waves, designed to resemble a fish. Your driver will give you the tickets for you to enjoy the museum visit on your own. The night is yours to dine in at the hotel´s highly recommended restaurant, or perhaps have some Basque “Tapas” and “Pintxos” in the historic Plaza Nueva.
Overnight: 5* Design hotel, Bilbao
Meals Included in Price: Full breakfast, Gourmet Lunch with wines
Transfers: El Ciego- Haro- Bilbao
Day Four - End of Tour
Wine Caves at Carlos Sampedro
Based on when your departure flight is, your driver will take you to the airport. We hope you have enjoyed this luxurious food and wine tour in La Rioja!
Meals Included in Price: Full breakfast/ Early bird breakfast
Transfers: Bilbao hotel- airport
“Thank you for organizing such a wonderful tour. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves...my husband said "...can we take a Cellar Tour of the world?" :-) The vehicle was beautiful; Jose was wonderful -- charming and personable and readily gave interesting descriptions of the local areas we visited...when we weren't dozing in the extremely comfortable car between winery tours. The Marques de Riscal Hotel was amazing...a real visual treat. To be surrounded by such a beautiful setting, I didn't want to close my eyes...except that the accomodations were so comfortable and relaxing! The isolated setting was very peaceful, and the staff cheerful and friendly. Etxebarri restaurant was another gorgeous setting with incredible food. I also wanted to mention what a great resource the Pre Tour information packet was. Would definitely definitely recommend Cellar Tours after this experience!”
Leizle Talangbayan, Long Branch, New Jersey.
What's Not Included:
This is a SAMPLE TOUR ITINERARY. Please note that our private chauffeured luxury tours are totally customized to your needs and price varies according to the number of people in your group (please note tours require minimum 2 guests), specific suppliers included, number of services included,specific dates, transport type etc. Contact us today for more information and we would be delighted to get started on a tailor made detailed itinerary with pricing for you.
All of our tours are available year round upon request for your private group of minimum 2 people. If you would like us to customize a luxury tour of Spain for you, contact us with your requirements, and we can send you a free itinerary and quote with no obligations. We organize packages from 1 day, to weekends to longer food and wine discoveries throughout Spain.
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