Spain: The La Rioja Wine Region

La Rioja is Northern Spain’s queen of Roman architecture, medieval fortresses and Tempranillo grapes. With lush green landscapes irrigated by the Ebro River, this wine region is known for its red wines and unusual white varieties. Strap on your medieval helmet and take a horseback ride along the dirt trails and discover a wine experience that is as rich as the historical legacy it leaves behind. Indulge in spicy stews and roasted lamb chops at the local restaurants that surround the La Rioja region.

You can bottle up some spicy history and take it home with you. Keep your wine bottles safe on the journey home with the VinGardeValise®, the ultimate wine suitcase. Allow yourself and your wine to travel home in style without the fear of losing precious memories from your trip to the La Rioja wine region.

Get ready to taste some history and experience Spanish beauty.

Artadi

Artadi was founded in 1985 when the Tempranillo grape variety was planted in its vineyards. If you visit this winery today, you can sample some high-end wines that have 95+ point ratings. Artadi prides itself on producing all of its wines from traditional domestic grape varieties. When Artadi was asked why they stick to traditional winemaking practices they said, “We keep alive the viticultural traditions of our grandparents, fighting against the destructive advances that chemistry has introduced into industrialized and disrespectful agricultural management.”


Features:
One of the most luxurious tasting rooms in La Rioja
Tours of the cellar with advanced reservations
Wines made with natural fermentation, without filtration
Vineyard tours
Group discounts
Art exhibitions
Wine club

Suggestion(s): 2012 Viña El Pisón, a blend of natural minerals and fruits that was awarded 99 points by Tim Atkin

Miguel Merino

Miguel Merino sits just below the medieval village of Briones. Established in 1994, this quaint winery is home to 27 acres of vineyards that produce Tempranillo based wines. Miguel Merino offers you personalized tours that mix tradition with a modern twist. Miguel Merino says, “Now, as one of the smallest and youngest wineries in Spain —our first vintage was 1994— our wines are among the most prestigious in the country, and we are exporting them to over 30 markets.”

Features:
Intimate wine tastings with advanced reservations
Cellar tour where you will see the grape sorting table and winemaking process
Tour of Briones village & Vivanco Wine Museum
Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, a 16th century church
Children welcome

Suggestion(s): 2005 Miguel Merino Gran Reserva, a blend of Tempranillo & Graciano

Marques de Murrieta

Marques de Murrieta is one of the oldest wineries in the La Rioja region. Established in 1852, this winery is known for its traditional wines that are aged in oak barrels for an extended amount of time. The wines may be traditional, but you will love the modern tasting room. According to Marques de Murrieta’s website, Michelle Obama, First Lady and wife of the U.S. President Barack Obama, visited Spain and the Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2007 was the wine of choice for the First Lady’s honorary dinner. Come and try the same wine that Michelle Obama favors!

Features:
Exclusive access, you can only visit if you have a reservation
Private wine tastings
Tours of the historical monuments
Tours of the vineyards & wine cellar

Suggestion(s): For something fresh, fruity and different, try the 2015 Primer Rosé

Finca Valpiedra

Finca Valpiedra was established in 1999 and boasts approximately 198 acres of vineyards. According to the wineries website, “. . . it is the only Rioja winery that belongs to the Asociación Grandes Pagos de España (Grand Crus Association of Spain), an exclusive and small group of wineries from all over the national territory of Spain with single vineyards and of their own personality defends the authentic terroirs of the country.” If you are familiar with the Spanish TV series Gran Reserva, you may recognize Finca Valpiedra as the main film location for the series.

Features:
Some of the steepest terraces in the La Rioja region
Wine club with exclusive wines only available to members
Tours
Wine tastings
Panoramic views of the Ebro River & mountains

Suggestion(s): 2009 Finca Valpiedra Reserva or 2013 Cantos de Valpiedra

Marques de Riscal

Marques de Riscal was founded in 1858. It is the first winery in La Rioja to offer Cabernet sauvignon, an uncommon variety in the region. If you are looking for a wine resort with luxurious amenities, this is the place for you. Taste some delicious wine and pamper yourself. With a large selection of wines available, you are sure to find something that you will enjoy.

Features:
2 Restaurants
Tours that include wine tastings
Hotel Marqués de Riscal
Spa Vinothérapie
Event center

Suggestion(s): Marques de Riscal Sauvignon Blanc

Hermanos Pecina

Hermanos Pecina was founded by Pedro Peciña in 1992. With approximately 124 acres of vineyards, this winery continues to expand every year. Hermanos Pecina’s predominant variety is Tempranillo, but you can also taste Garnacha and Viura. The wine is affordable and can be enjoyed in a relaxed atmosphere.

Features:
Free guided tours
Free wine tastings
Dining room
Picnic area

Suggestion(s): Red Gran Reserva, a blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Graciano

Señora de Remelluri

Señora de Remelluri was founded in 1967 and uses a combination of modern and traditional winemaking practices. With approximately 381 acres of vineyards, Señora de Remelluri is one of the largest vineyards in La Rioja. According to Señora de Remelluri’s website, “In this place, surrounded by our oldest vineyards, carved into the rock is an ancient wine press, . . .one of the oldest wine remains.”

Features:
Wine tasting
Walking tour & nature trail which takes you through an ancient village
Guided tours that range from 30 – 90 minutes
Advanced reservations for private tours and tastings
Historical churches and houses that date back to the 10th century

Suggestion(s): Remelluri White, one of the most unique wines in the region—crafted with 9 different grape varieties

Muga

Muga was founded in 1932 and is known for their wine aging process. Using imported American and French oak, Muga has their own barrel making shop on the property. You can also witness their unique bottling processes that they call Prado Enea. Muga believes that they have “a clearly defined personality of their own.”

Features:
Hot-air balloon rides
Wine tasting courses
Gift shop
Cellar and barrel casting tour

Suggestion(s): 2015 Muga White Barrel with hints of green apple and citrus

Making the Trip

During your trip to La Rioja, Spain you can sip high-end Tempranillo or more affordable Sauvignon Blanc. Embark on a tour of ancient villages and cathedrals. Soar across the sky in a hot-air balloon as you look down at the Ebro River. You will marvel at the steep terraces, beautiful gardens and art exhibitions. You can tour the wine cellars and learn about the wine-making process. Many encounters with the land, nature and winemaker await you. It’s time for you to make your own unique wine experience in La Rioja, Spain.

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