Exclusive Rioja Wine Tasting Masterclass in Laguardia

By: Genevieve Mc Carthy / Last updated: March 10, 2024

Mikel Ruiz de Viñaspre has launched super premium wine masterclasses. He is a well-known wine professional in La Rioja with over 20 years of experience. These classes are for a small and select group of partners, including Cellar Tours. The masterclasses take place in the 15th century gorgeous stone house where he was born. This house is located in medieval Laguardia. Mikel was born into the wine industry to a family of wine growers. Indeed, he even has vineyards in his last name (Viñaspre means Peter’s vineyards in Latin).

Mikel Ruiz de Viñaspre, Masterclass in La Rioja wine

Steeped in history, his noble house proudly displays the family’s historic coat of arms. The world of wine feels like a natural calling for Mikel. He started studying English Literature but always gravitated back to wine, and he discovered a passion for hospitality. Mikel realized that wine tourism was a beautiful way to work in the wine industry. He could use his excellent English to talk about wine and meet new people from all over the world every day.

Mikel didn’t stop learning there – he continued on to get a two-year degree in Viticulture! He also obtained a Wine Tourism degree through the Basque Culinary Center. Busy doesn’t even begin to describe Mikel! Between managing PR, wine tourism, and sales for the fancy Gómez Cruzado winery, taking care of his two young kids, and teaching Rioja wine classes, he’s also squeezing in a master’s degree in Wine Business Management! Needless to say, he is energetic and dynamic!

Mikel’s Rioja masterclasses are superb. His objective with the private, personalized tastings is to introduce cult, tiny batch, garage, and super collector wines to high-end wine lovers visiting the Rioja region. He includes the small producers and vignerons that are part of the new wave of Rioja wines. They are also personal, dear friends of Mikel’s. Therefore, he has unprecedented access to rare wines.

Subterranean Wine Cave
Subterranean Wine Cave “Calados,” beneath Mikel’s family house in Laguardia

Before the tasting, you will enjoy a tour of the exquisite house. Like many in Laguardia, this house features underground “Calados” – wine caves dating back centuries. These caves boast a depth of over 8 meters, meticulously carved into the rock. You will see the beautiful sandstone tank that produced wine from the 15th century until the 1980s.

One interesting anecdote about this exceptional venue involves its history. In medieval times, his family home was among the three buildings obligated to tithe 10% of their grape harvest to the church. Then, after a charming tour sprinkled with history, sit down to a seriously good wine tasting.

Mikel will explain the trends in Rioja and discuss the magnificent and diverse subregions. These subregions have different soils, landscapes, climates, and grape varietals, offering unlimited possibilities to produce unique wines. You will also enjoy a tutored tasting of 6 extraordinary wines selected from his current list of favorites.

Las Plegarias 2021 by Carlos Sánchez

One of my favorite whites last year. Produced purely with Viura (the most important local White variety) but with an elegant Burgundian style.”

Garnacha Blanca 2021 by Víctor Ausejo

A beautiful wine produced with Garnacha Blanca in the foothills of Clavijo. One of the best expressions of this varietal that can be found in Rioja”.

Anza Especial 2021 by Diego Magaña

A tempranillo-based blend where some other varieties coferment in 500 litres barrels. The beauty of the old vineyards of Laguardia and Elvillar captured by Diego, one of the most self- demanding producers I know.”

Pancrudo 2021 by Gómez Cruzado

One of the most exiting (and popular) 100% garnacha Wines in Rioja, produced by us (Gómez Cruzado is the winery where I Work) showing the freshness and elegance we get in el Alto Najerilla área.”

Carronillo 2021 by Abeica

Ricardo and David are almost ridiculously young producers (less than 30 years old) but they produce one of the best wines I discovered last year. A single-vineyard wine produced in their family winery and in my opinion is one of the best examples of a good Tempranillo based wine of the foothills of Sierra Cantabria.”

Valdeginés 2021 by Artadi

Artadi is in my opinion the best producer in Rioja (even if they are out of the DOC) and the Valdeginés one of the most elegant, fresh and at the same time approachable single-vineyard wine they produce. Highly recommended.”

Cupani 2020

Lovely family. Miguel (father) was one of the pioneers of the organic winegrowing in Rioja back in the 80’s and his sons –Miguel and Enrique- are producing extremely interesting terroir driven wines. You can tell how good a winery is when you taste such a good entry level wine like this, produced with grapes coming from one of the most beautiful vineyards in Rioja, San Andrés.”

La Canoca 2022 by José Gil

José and Vicky are producing some of the most demanded Wines in Rioja in the last years. Honest wines extremely difficult to find, José is probably the flagship of the new generation of Young producers in Rioja and La Canoca, one of my favorite wines.”

CDVIN 2021 by Eduardo Eguren

Eduardo has one of the most prestigious lastnames in Rioja, but he wanted to fly solo and Cuentaviñas is his personal project. CDVIN is a 100% garnacha wine, a game where four Friends decided to give their personal visión of Cordovín, a town located in Alto Najerilla, the kingdom of this variety in Rioja.”

San Vicente 2021 by Álvaro Loza

Álvaro is actually a flying winegrower, because for the last decade he has been working in the harvest in some of the best wine regions in the world. San Vicente is one of the two Wines he produces, trying to capture the essence of one of the most iconic towns in the north of Rioja.”


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Genevieve Mc Carthy

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