The Top 10 Wineries to Visit in la Rioja
This is the main reason why travellers from all around the world come to la Rioja: Winery and vineyards visits and wine tastings. It is an unforgettable experience not just because you get to taste some of the best reds in the world, but also because it is like time travel: Some wineries will take you back to the beginning of the 19th century while others will beam you up to the future.
As there are more than 600 wineries (bodegas) in the region, it becomes a compelling and arduous task to choose which ones worth your time. Unless you are a real wine enthusiast, a single (or maybe two) winery visit per day will be enough as you will also want to spend some time outdoors in the sun. While some most-known wineries organize tours that are open to public (they typically cost between €10 to €40 per person and last around 1,5 to 2 hours), most prestigious ones only welcome visitors from their own network. During a typical bodega visit, you will first learn about how wine is made, visit fermentation rooms, barreling, bottling and the cellars. Almost each session ends with a tasting of selected house wines. Arranging visits to Rioja vineyards are much more difficult and in almost all cases require a prior appointment through a connection (unless the winery is located right next to their own vineyard – in that case winery visit may end with a short walk to vineyards.)
Here is our list of best wineries to visit in Rioja
Lopez de Heredia, Haro, Spain:
They call themselves the last Mohicans! López de Heredia was founded in 1877 and their way of winemaking changed very little, if any, since then. This is the most traditional winery you will come across in la Rioja. The premises are beautiful and their historic cellars go on for as much as your eyes can see. The whole place has a lovely smell of yeast, oak and fruit. To top it all, wine tastings take place in a pavilion designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid. Inside this decanter shaped pavilion is an old pavilion that had been originally commissioned by Lopez de Heredia family for the world EXPO exhibition in 1910. Lopez de Heredia produces eloquent wines that you can find in Michelin star restaurants in Spain and the rest of the world. The visits are by appointment and they only welcome real wine lovers.
Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, Spain:
Among the wineries in La Rioja, Marques de Riscal is probably the most visited, therefore the most touristy. However, any trip to Rioja remains incomplete without seeing the monumental Marqués de Riscal Hotel (next to the winery) designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry. Unless you are a hotel guest, a winery tour is your best option to come close to this pink, silver and gold titanium structure, as part of the tour involves a short video screening at this premise. The cellars are amazing as they have thousands and thousands of vintage bottles dating all the way back to 1862. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a glass of red Marqués? Visits are open to public.
Baigorri, Samaniego, Spain:
You can find two things together in Baigorri: Medal winning great Rioja wine and a striking contemporary design. The winery, designed by Basque architect Iñaki Aspiazu, is hard to miss as it is a giant glass structure on the way from Laguardia to Samaniego. Huge glass windows overlook splendid vineyards. Visits are by appointment only.
Remirez de Ganuza, Samaniego, Spain:
This is a family owned boutique winery situated right in the center of the beautiful small town of Samaniego. They have some medal winning wines and listed among the top Rioja wines in publications such as Decanter and Wine Spectator. The owner of the winery, Fernando Remirez de Ganuza is a 66 year-old charming winemaker with great stories to tell, if you are lucky enough to meet him during your visit. Visits are by appointment only.
Bodegas Ysios, La Guardia, Spain:
This is the Bodega that you see in most of the Rioja pictures found online. The winery is designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calavatra and has a unique curvy aluminium and cedar roof. The place stands in perfect harmony with the Sierra Cantabria mountains as its backdrop and the vineyards it faces – making it a perfect Instagram post. The winery is owned by the giant beverage company Pernod Ricard, thus do not expect a cozy atmosphere. Visits are open to public by appointment.
CVNE, Haro, Spain:
A visit to the historic Barrio de la Estacion (train station district) in Haro is a must for every traveller to Rioja. One of the oldest establishments in this area is CVNE. It has sophisticated wines, great views of Rioja Alavesa, a pleasant tasting venue and a shop. What makes this winery special is also their imperial barrels that were designed by the celebrated architect Gustave Eiffel in 1890. Additionally, its Gran Reserva was selected Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year in 2013.
Bodega 202, La Guardia, Spain:
This is one of the newest wineries in Rioja with a new generation approach to winemaking. Owned by a diplomat from Washington DC, this innovative winery has acquired prestigious vineyards combining old vines and altitude and employs best winemakers in the region. What makes it special is its boutique and personal touch with the rare option to taste the same harvest in different stages of production. Visits are only arranged for serious wine enthusiasts on a private basis.
Roda, Haro, Spain:
Roda, also situated in Barrio de la Estacion in Haro, is a relatively new comer to Rioja wine scene. It stands as a stark contrast to Lopez de Heredia, since Roda’s winemaking production is all high-tech, specializing in polished Tempranillo reds. Along with its popular wines, you can also purchase exquisite olive oil from the in-house shop. Winery tours are organized daily and open to public.
Muga, Haro, Spain:
A family run establishment, Muga was founded in Haro in 1932. The winery owns five picturesque vineyards totaling around 250 hectares. They use traditional methods of winemaking such as fermentation taking place in large wooden casks, decanting by gravity rather than pumps. It is also unique in the sense that it has its own wooden barrel wearhouse with master cooper and barrel-makers working solely for the company. Muga has an impressive collection of around 15000 barrels. It has a large tasting room and a inhouse restaurant that serves lunch. Visits are by appointment only.
Campo Viejo, Logrono, Spain:
Campo Viejo is another famous producer of world-wide known Rioja wines. This hyper-modern winery is a 10 minute drive from the capital of la Rioja, Logrono. Its barrel ageing rooms are impressive. It was initially founded in 1959 by two local winemakers, Beristain and Ortigüela, and now it is owned by Pernod Ricard. Campo Viejo puts a lot of importance on sustainable production, henceforth it has become the first winery in the world to receive Carbon Neutral Certification. If you care about ecology, this winery must be on your list. Visits are open to public.
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