The beautiful countryside of La Rioja is Spain’s most renowned wine region, courtesy of its eponymous ruby red export that is recognised around the world.
Spain devotes more land to vineyards than anywhere else, with 69 officially recognised wine production regions spread across the country. Most wine tourists, however, tend to flock to La Rioja – which, despite being among the country’s smallest provinces, boasts 500 wineries (bodegas) producing 175 million bottles per year. As our Rioja wine region map shows, the area extends around 120km either side of the Ebro river and is bounded by mountains at the edges. The word ‘Rioja’ is actually a derivation of two words – ‘Rio’ meaning river, and ‘Oja’ which is the name of a southwestern tributary of the Ebro river.
La Rioja is set in beautiful countryside that dates back to medieval times and traces of its past can be seen in the fortress towns nestling on hills, enormous Gothic churches and ancient burial markers (dolmenes) that are scattered across the fields. Spain’s oldest D.O.C (Denomination de Origen) can be separated into three distinct sub regions that are clearly marked on any map of the Rioja wine region. These are the Rioja Alta, the Rioja Baja and the Rioja Alvesca.
The Rioja Alvesca, which belongs to the Basque country, and the Rioja Alta claim the region’s most prestigious bodegas and attract the most visitors – the Rioja Alvesca is home to 300 of the region’s 500 bodegas alone. Wine routes can be taken across both of these sub-regions, visiting picturesque villages, a collection of large commercial and small boutique wineries as well as family run country inns serving delicious, rustic food.
At Wine Paths, our local experts can plot a variety of courses across the Rioja wine region map that can be tailormade to your exact requirements. Among these is our classic tour of the Rioja and Ribera Del Duero, which was named Wine Region of the Year 2012 by the influential Wine Enthusiast Magazine. An experienced guide will take you on visits to several hand selected wineries where you can immerse yourself in Spanish culture while meeting the owners, tasting their wines and staying in luxurious accommodation.
Alternatively, our tour of Rioja and the Basque country extends experiences beyond the confines of the Rioja wine region map with wine tasting in the Rioja countryside before marvelling at the architecture in Bilbao and dining on gastronomic delights in San Sebastian. Modern architecture enthusiasts also have the opportunity to take a four-night tour some of Rioja’s most spectacular wineries and boutique hotels, designed by the likes of Frank Ghery, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers or Santiago Calatrava.
Aside from exploring the vineyards and wine tasting, visitors to La Rioja can enjoy Mediterranean forests and medieval towns as well as a rich cultural heritage that includes the walled city of Laguardia and the historic town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. There is also an annual festival in the northern town of Haro where participants basically engage in an enormous food fight using wine. And, another spectacle is at Alfaro at the eastern edge of the Rioja province where you can fine the largest colony of storks resting in a single building, the Colegiata de San Miguel.
If you're interested in one of our La Rioja Wine Tours, please visit this link.
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