A fusion of Spanish tradition & cutting edge experiences
This extremely special wine tour of Northern Spain takes in some of Spain's most picturesque regions, including Basque Country, Navarra, and La Rioja, as well as Biarritz in France. Taste delicious wines at high end cellars, dine at the top gourmet restaurants in Northern Spain, and visit some of Spain's most charming medieval and coastal villages. Your wine tour begins when your charming, private driver guide meets you in Bilbao, and you will first head south to the Ribera del Duero wine country. Over the next few days, you will visit top estates (like Pérez Pascuas, Prado Rey and O´Fournier), the medieval village of Covarrubias and the stunning Gothic Cathedral of Burgos. Sleep in a beautifully restored 17th century Duke’s palace in a gorgeous room with period furniture.
Following your stay in Ribera, travel north to La Rioja. Your base for this leg of the tour is Laguardia, a delightful town located at the top of a hill, overlooking vineyards and surrounded by a medieval wall. After a few fascinating winery visits to leading Rioja estates like Roda and Remirez de Ganuza over the next few days, you'll continue on to Navarra. You’ll visit a prestigious leading wine estate before carrying on to Olite, a lovely historic village founded by the Romans, and later used as a Royal residence for the Kings of Navarre. There is an absolutely stunning fairy tale castle here that you will be able to visit, climbing up the ramparts and towers. You’ll drive north next, to Spain's beautiful, rugged Atlantic coast. Conclude your tour of Spain with a few days in the gourmet Basque Country including a Michelin starred lunch in Hondarribia, a visit to Frank Gehry's groundbreaking Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, a culinary excursion to the French Pays Basque, and the delightful city of San Sebastian.
If you are a food and wine lover and prefer small, charming villages to big hectic cities, then you will enjoy this gourmet tour immensely. The pace is relaxing, and you will appreciate having your own personal chauffeur so you can enjoy the wine tasting! Contact us for more information on this unforgettable vacation in Northern Spain.
Below is a suggested Day By Day Itinerary for your private Northern Spain Wine Tour
Day One - Traditional Lunch Paired with Ribera del Duero Fine Wines
This morning you will arrive to Bilbao airport where your own private driver guide will be waiting for you. Travel south by comfortable Mercedes to the historic town of Burgos. This ancient city was founded in 884 AD but came to major prominence when it was the capital of the united kingdoms of Castile and León in the 11th century. In the 13th century, the gothic cathedral was built, one of the most spectacular cathedrals in the world! You will enjoy a visit to Burgos including its stunning cathedral (where Spanish folk hero El Cid is entered). With your driver guide, enter the old town via the fairy tale “Arcos de Santa María” gateway (complete with turrets) and spend the morning exploring. You’ll see the “Casa del Cordón”, a 15th century palace where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella welcomed Columbus after his 2nd voyage to the Americas in 1497.
A wonderful traditional Spanish lunch will be organized for you in an atmospheric little “Mesón” (restaurant. Try “Alubias rojas de Ibeas” (red beans), Bacalao gratinado con pimientos secos (cod gratin with peppers) and the mythical local roast lamb (slow cooked in historic wood ovens). Taste wines from premium Ribera del Duero estates like Aalto and Vega Sicilia´s Valbuena. After lunch, continue on south on a quiet country road for about 45 minutes to the medieval town of Covarrubias. If you are visiting in July, then you’ll be able to see their annual medieval festival, very colorful. Spend some time on your own exploring this darling hamlet. The main attraction is the pristine Collegiate church, and the lovely cluster of medieval timbered houses.
At your leisure, your driver will take on to your hotel located in the pretty town of Lerma, where you will be staying at a beautiful palace right in the Plaza Mayor. The evening is yours to dine on your own. We recommend Restaurante Asador Casa Antón for a traditional and cozy dinner tonight, or order something lighter at your hotel. Welcome to Spain!
Overnight: 4* Luxury historic hotel, Lerma
Meals Included in Price: Traditional lunch with wines
Transfers: Bilbao- Burgos- Covarrubias- Lerma
Day Two - Private Wine Tastings at Prado Rey & O'Fournier Cellars
Abadia Retuerta wine estate
Today you will spend the day discovering the wines of Ribera del Duero. You will visit three leading estates and visit one of the region’s most preserved castles. Learn all about the made of the Tempranillo grape variety (called "Tinta Fina" here). Begin with a short drive to the first cellar such as Prado Rey. You’ll have a private tour of the vineyards, see their historic palace and finish with a tour and tasting of six of their flagship wines including a Gran Reserva. The next wine tour is at a contrasting, small estate, O´Fournier in Berlangas del Duero.
The Spanish owners of this estate have a spectacular winery in Argentina as well as a wine estate in Chile, and this is their newish venture in Spain. While the winery itself is nothing special, the visit is well worth it as the hosts are fabulous and the wines are some of the best in Ribera. You’ll also have a chance to taste their South American wines on this VIP visit. After this morning of wine tasting and walking in the vineyards, you’ll be well ready for some lunch. We have a special lunch organized for you at the quaint Molino de Palacios restaurant in Peñafiel, a convivial little eatery in an ancient mill on the river. This restaurant is revered for its game dishes, roast lamb in the ubiquitous “Horno de Leña” (wood oven) and in autumn, for its wild mushroom and truffle specialties.
After lunch, drive up to the castle to take in the views over the vast arid plains of the Ribera, take some photos, perhaps peek into the provincial wine museum, etc. The last wine tour of the day is our favorite in Ribera del Duero- Abadia Retuerta. Simply stunning wines, amazing hosts, fascinating vineyard tour by 4X4 and the most beautiful tasting room in Spain (a 13th century Romanesque monastery). You’ll love it. In the late afternoon, head back to Lerma for the rest of the evening at leisure.
Overnight: 4* Luxury historic hotel, Lerma
Meals Included in Price:Full breakfast, Traditional lunch with wines
Transfers: Lerma- Ribera del Duero wine country- Lerma
Day Three - VIP Tastings at Lopez de Heredia & Roda Wineries
Rioja vineyards at harvest
This morning, you will head back north to the Rioja wine region. Head northeast from Lerma to Haro, about an hour and a half drive. Arrive to Haro, the main wine village in the Rioja Alta appellation (Rioja is subdivided into 3 regions- Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja). Haro is where the majority of the 19th century “Chateaux” are and you will begin with a visit to one of the most beautiful and classic estates like López de Heredia. Founded in 1877, the cellar is supremely romantic. You´ll have a private tour of the facilities and conclude with a tasting in the futuristic Zaha Hadid designed wine shop. Taste their main wines like Viña Tondonia Reserva and the unique Viña Gravonia white.
Your second wine tour this morning contrasts with the first, at Bodegas Roda. Roda is quite possibly our favorite winery in Rioja, making modern style wines with less oak and more fruit forward. You’ll tour their stylish cellar and see the beautiful barrel cellars, before enjoying a private tasting of all their wines- Roda I, Roda II and Cirsion. At this estate you can also taste their olive oils, made in Catalonia (the owners are Catalans, not local Riojanos). Lunch is next in a pretty converted monastery. Traditional fare is served with innovative presentation. You’ll have a top Rioja wine at lunch today like Torre Muga or Artadi´s Viña El Pisón.
After lunch, transfer to Laguardia, your base for your stay in Rioja. Check into your art nouveau castle hotel and the rest of the day is yours to explore this walled village. Don’t miss the two outstanding churches (Iglesia de San Juan Bautista and Iglesia de Santa Maria de los Reyes), they are gorgeous! Take a walk along the Paseo del Collado, following the ancient wall, and admire the views below in the surrounding valley.
Overnight: 4* Charming hotel, Laguardia
Meals Included in Price: Full breakfast, Creative lunch with wines
Transfers: Lerma- Haro- Laguardia
Day Four - Private Tasting at Ysios & Remirez de Ganuza Wineries
Campillo wine estate
This morning you will begin with a peek at the beautiful Ysios winery, designed by Santiago Calatrava. Have a look at the vineyards and bring the camera as there is a great view of Laguardia from here. Carry on to the Campillo estate, also in Laguardia, for a private wine tour. This is one of the most beautiful wineries in the region, rather like a Chateau, and the backdrop of the Cantabrian mountains is captivating. Owned by Bodegas Faustino, Campillo is their jewel in the crown. The winery is state of the art and they cellar more than 3 million bottles of wine!
You’ll visit the vineyards with your hosts and learn all about grape growing and follow with a private tour and tasting of their full range of wines including Campillo Blanco Fermentado en Barrica, Rosado, Crianza, Reserva and Campillo Gran Reserva. Finish your wine touring in Rioja with a visit to the cult Remirez de Ganuza estate. Like Roda, it is one of the modern style Riojas and their Trasnocho wine is the darling of the wine press. Located in the alluring village of Samaniego, you’ll begin the tour with a few minutes in the vineyards. A private tour and tasting are next, enjoy! Lunch today is at a winemaker´s haunt, Héctor Oribe in Páganos. This young chef makes excellent creative renditions of traditional dishes, and you’ll try his tasting menu paired with an exquisite wine like Finca Allende´s Aurus or Calvario.
After lunch drive to the Marques de Riscal winery to see the impressive new hotel designed by Frank Gehry and enjoy a coffee or digestif at the bar. The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours, with your driver available if you’d like to go sightseeing.
Overnight: 4* Charming hotel, Laguardia
Meals Included in Price: Full breakfast, Creative lunch with wines
Transfers: Laguardia- Samaniego- Páganos- El Ciego- Laguardia
Day Five - Private Visit and Tasting at Chivite & Guelbenzu Wineries
Castle in Olite
From Rioja, today you will travel to Navarre (Navarra, in Spanish). This wealthy, mainly agricultural region is pristine and largely unspoiled. You’ll visit one of the most famous wineries in the appellation like Chivite. From Laguardia, drive to Cintruénigo, about an hour and 15 minutes. This is the oldest estate in the Navarra wine region and the company dates back to 1647. Chivite makes a wide range of good value wines under the Gran Feudo brand (the most popular rosé in Spain, and a fantastic Viñas Viejas reserva) as well as more interesting wines like their nectar-like Moscatel. Visit the old cellar, and finish with a tasting of their flagship wines.
One of Spain´s most picture-perfect castles is next in medieval Olite. Lunch will be organized in a traditional and warm restaurant like Casa Zanito, with its wood beamed ceilings and authentic local cuisine. Enjoy a four course lunch paired with wines form a top Navarra estate like Guelbenzu. After lunch, spend the afternoon visiting Olite. Fairly off the beaten tourist track, Olite is extremely cute and also one of the major centers of wine production in Navarra (Ochoa is here, for one) and you can pop into the small little museum of wine. Enjoy the walk up to the castle on the narrow, cobblestoned streets. Your driver guide will walk you up the castle which you can then discover on your own. You can climb turrets and cruise the ramparts, very “Rapunzel”.
This evening you will transfer to the small hamlet of Puente la Reina, about a 45 minute drive, where you will sleep at a boutique Relais & Chateaux. Puente la Reina has a stunning Romanesque bridge (the Puente de los Peregrinos) named after the pilgrims that visit this town on their way to Santiago de Compostela (on the Saint James pilgrimage). Enjoy dinner on your own here- we suggest you try their rice dishes.
Overnight: 4* Luxury Relais & Chateaux, Puente la Reina
Meals Included in Price: Full breakfast, Traditional lunch with wines
Transfers: Laguardia- Navarra wine country- Olite- Puente la Reina
Day Six - Gastronomic Basque Lunch
You´ll take a break from wine tasting today and focus on great food and some sightseeing. From Puente la Reina you will travel to Pamplona for visit (catapulted to world fame when Ernest Hemingway wrote about the Running of the Bulls, which takes place here). With a private guide you will visit Pamplona’s most interesting sites like the 18th century Cathedral, the Capilla de San Fermin (patron saint of the town whom the running of the bulls is dedicated), and various gardens. Have an aperitif in the pretty Plaza del Castillo before driving to the Atlantic coast to lovely Hondarribia.
Lunch today is a treat at a Michelin starred Basque restaurant on the French border. Chef Gorka Txapartegui and his brother Kepa run this atmospheric restaurant and you’ll try the tasting menu (Menu de Degustación) which might include some of their specialties like scallops with artichokes, grilled foie gras with roast apple and herbs, marinated tuna, creamy rice with squid and pistachio mousse with poppy seeds. You’ll try a wine today from Priorat (in the Mediterranean Catalonia region). After lunch, visit this beautiful little port town on your own or with your driver guide. Hondarribia is one of the most picturesque villages in Northern Spain, overlooking the River Bidasoa and protected from invading French forces in the past by its 15th century walls. In the late afternoon, your driver will drop you off at your luxurious hotel in beautiful San Sebastian. The night is yours to explore on your own. If you want something upscale tonight try Arzak or Akelarre, and for something more relaxed you could go for tapas and pintxos in the old town.
Overnight: 5* Luxury hotel, San Sebastian
Meals Included in Price: Full breakfast, Michelin starred lunch with wines
Transfers: Puente la Reina- Pamplona- Hondarribia- San Sebastian
Day Seven - Excursion to French Pays Basque
Charming Beach Umbrellas in Biarritz
Being so close to France, it would be a crime not to visit and so today you will go sightseeing in the nearby French Pays Basque. From San Sebastian, drive northeast about 40 minutes to lovely Biarritz. The morning is yours to explore this 19th century playground for Europe’s aristocrats and celebrities. Check out the Chocolate museum, the lighthouse and its views over the sea, the aquarium, the gourmet Halles market, etc. Pick up some French goodies at “Les Ateliers du Chocolat de Bayonne” and “Mille et un Fromage”.
Lunch today is a very special affair, at the Château de Brindos, overlooking a lake. You’ll have the French tasting menu paired with top French wines for a change today and if it’s a beautiful day you’ll sit outside overlooking the lake, sublime. In the afternoon head back to San Sebastian, stopping in the cute, sleepy fishing village of St-Jean-de-Luz. We suggest you enjoy a coffee or digestif in the Place Saint Louis and people watch, great little place. Return to San Sebastian in the late afternoon or early evening and the night is yours at leisure. We suggest Zuberoa for dinner tonight.
Overnight: 5* Luxury hotel, San Sebastian
Meals Included in Price: Full breakfast, Relais & Chateaux lunch with wines
Transfers: San Sebastian- Biarritz- San Sebastian
Day Eight - Lunch at Etxebarri
San Sebastian´s Concha beach
Spend the morning on your own in San Sebastian. From your hotel, take a left towards the sea and follow the coast walk around to the pleasure port. There are great views of the sea from this walk. Depending on the month you visit, the waves are huge here and might splash over the 20 foot breaker, quite fun actually! You could visit the aquarium, have an aperitif and some tapas in the fascinating old town (called the “Parte Vieja”), and take a stroll along the refined Concha beach (line with Belle Époque hotels and apartments). Around 1PM you will meet your driver who will take you up to Mount Igueldo to admire the views over San Sebastian, don´t forget the camera!
Your next stop is lunch at the fabulous Etxebarri restaurant, located in a beautiful farmhouse in the Basque hills in the two horse hamlet of Axpe. This unassuming looking restaurant and friendly chef have come on the radar for globetrotting foodies and you are likely to run into other diners from Paris to New York here. The chef Bitor Arguinzoniz is Spain´s “master griller” and you´ll taste a number of vegetable, seafood and meat dishes grilled to absolute perfection. The chef will create the tasting menu for you on the spot, based on the foods you like and you will have some wonderful wines arranged for you from Bierzo and Rioja. This is a fantastic place to have your last meal on this gourmet tour! After lunch, you´ll drive to Bilbao, where you will stay your last night before the flight home tomorrow. The afternoon is yours to visit the Guggenheim (tix will be provided) and the old town. Check into your hotel and relax.
Overnight: 5* Luxury hotel, Bilbao
Meals Included in Price: Full breakfast, Gourmet lunch with wines
Transfers: San Sebastian- Axpe- Bilbao
Day Nine - End of Tour i
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
This morning at your preferred time (depending on your flight) your elegant driver will take you to the airport. And this concludes your food and wine tour of Northern Spain. We hope you had an amazing time and we look forward to seeing you again on another tour!
Meals Included in Price: Full breakfast
Transfers: Bilbao hotel- airport
“You and your company's planning must also be praised. Your selection of wine companies and specific bodegas were perfect. We received a wonderful variety of types of wine and visited several sized companies. Our favorite happened to be Mr. Merino's small bodega and his wine. It was wonderful how the selection of villages we visited met the same variable criteria as the bodegas. And the same can go for the restaurants. But, we both must say that our favorite time "eating" was our night out in San Sebastian with Andres "bar hopping" and tasting the many kinds of pinchos. We also bought on our own several of the special ingredients needed for good Spanish cooking and plan to try to make several of the dishes we ate. It will be interesting to see if we can at least partially duplicate them.”
Tom Nevins, Florida, USA
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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