The wines of Rioja and Castilla La Mancha

Well how about writing about two distinct wine regions of Spain. One, Rioja is already world famous for it’s red wines; however, they do whites and sparkling/cava wines there too. The other is little known but coming along quite nicely with good efforts.  Now, will tell you about what the different government organisations in the area are doing to promote the wine tours to these bodegas/wineries.

The regional administrations such as  the areas of La Rioja, Álava, and Navarra as well as local city mayor’s office such as Logroño, Haro, Elciego, Aldeanueva de Ebro, and Laguardia  as well as public and private entities are pushing this wines initiatives now.  On the other hand the regulatory council of the denomination of Rioja or Consejo Regulador Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja  are into the strategic plan for the future or the Plan Estratégico de Rioja 2005-2020, are pushing these initiatives of enotourism so the visitor can enjoy fully the experience.  The official regulatory council here:

The recent interest by consumers to know the world of wines has push for new sites to spread the culture of wine and tourism. One example of this is the case of the Vivanco museum or  Museo Vivanco, an initiative of the family with 9000 m2 of property offering a tour on the culture of wines from antiquity to our days thru their expositions and activities. The thematic center of the  Vino Villa Lucia, opened in 2000 in Laguardia,is also offering a didactic tour with interactive action on the growing of grapes  with seminars and conferences such as the forum of tourism Enogastronomic in the route of the wines of Rioja Alavesa or the Foro de Turismo Enogastronómico de la Ruta del Vino de Rioja Alavesa. More info in Spanish here:

More on museo Vivanco here in English:

Vino Villa lucia here in Spanish:

Rioja offers the possibility of enjoying many events and activities relating to wines such as the tastings on the neighborhood of the Station or Cata del Barrio de la Estación, an initiative of the wineries association of Haro or Asociación de Bodegas del Barrio de la Estación de Haro. It hopes to consolidate this space with other enotourism destinations in the world to enjoy a weekend with wines from seven Spanish wineries.  The municipality of Aldeanueva de Ebro  with Entreviñas, a festival of different activities from professional days to visit to wineries, wine fair, tastings, contests and music.

The Cata Estacion in English here:

Entreviñas 2017 here:

Take a look for events in 2018 on the above town of Aldeanueva del Ebro with music and wine here:

The program of the route of wines of Spain or Rutas del Vino de España was established to promote the wine tourism thru vineyards, wineries and places of interest related to them. In the denomination area of Rioja or D.O. Ca. Rioja to create two routes of wines: the Rioja alavesa or Ruta del Vino de Rioja Alavesa  and the Rioja Alta or Ruta del vino de Rioja Alta.  Currently there is work on creating the Rioja Baja or Ruta del Vino de Rioja Baja, already with more than 60 bodegas and the Villa Lucía. At Elciego, with the wine city of Marques de Riscal or  Ciudad del Vino de la bodega Marqués de Riscal, and in Labastida, the birthplace of Rioja are a must visits. The Ruta del Vino de Rioja Alta is found in the autonomous community of La Rioja where historically the culture of wines was developed in this region.  Amongt it’s more remarkable buildings are a rich historical and artistic heritage such as the  Monasterio de San Millán de la Cogolla, Monasterio de Santa María La Real de Nájera, the city of Haro, and the small medieval town of Briones etc.  There is ,also, a wonderful natural surrounding with the vineyards that connects the valley of Ebro or valle del Ebro with the sierra de la Demanda to the south and the Montes Obarenes to the west and going thru the valleys of the rivers Najerilla, Tirón, and Oja.

Many activities such as the battle of the wine or Batalla del Vino held from June 29 in Haro with rival disputes on the city of Miranda, Burgos. The participants dressed in white and on the footsteps of the ermitage or Ermita de San Felices, and twisted streets of Bilibio, they throw red wines at each others on the streets! More in Spanish here:

You can also join in to the festival or Fiesta de San Mateo y de la Vendimia Riojana, that is held in September 21st in Logroño.  Deep countryside roots on the days of thanksgivings, official act stepping on grapes and the must is used as offering to the Virgin of Valvanera, the Patron Saint of the Rioja, finished by carriages with a vineyard theme and plenty of tastings on the streets. More here:

Also, the Fiesta de la Vendimia de Rioja Alavesa a more recent creation held on the second Sunday of September each year around the towns showing the visitor the typical vineyards life of the region.  More info on the 2017 festivities but keep a lookout on the site for 2018 here:

The Wine Routes of Rioja webpage is here:

Some wineries worth going into them are:

Finca Valpiedra with 80 ha of vineyards on a beautiful edges of the Ebro river; bodega founded by the Martinez Bujanda family of deep roots in the area. It is between the towns of Cenicero and Fuenmayor. Right into the Sierra de Cantabria to the north norte and Sierra de la Demanda to the south with gorgeous views. More here:

Bodegas Riojanas founded in 1890 preserves the entry to the bodega a stone door that in 1799 allows entry into the private vineyards of the family. The installations has experiences on the senses to touch and smell the element done there like the material they produce the barrels of oak and the different soils it harvest. More here:

Bodegas Lecea  is a drain of stones that will leave you speechless with underground passages built in the 16C with original goat skins as when wines were preserve in them . The Lecea in San Asensio, has one of the bodegas that focus on the thematic experiences on the world of grapes. They have done it with rides on horse wagons , visit to vineyards, and the festival of the stepping on of the grapes call by ACEVIN, (Asociación Española de Rutas del Vino), the best enotourism experience of 2016. More here:

Màrques de Caceres with modernity and elegance bodega, one of my favorites. Very innovative machinery on the tour of the property on a model founded in 1970 by Enrique Forner. They combine the tastings sessions with Christmas market, yoya sessions, and flamenco shows. The visit is at Cenicero and offers a guided tour of the installations and tasting of four wines such as Antea Blanco Edición Limitada, Gran reserva, MC , and  Gadium). All from 15€ and about two hours. More here:

Bodegas Tritium was created in the 16C but recently restore. The thing to see here is the illuminated cellars on about 10 meters deep and 30 meters long, rather small yes. However, you find the mix of modernity and tradition very nice here. They make Crianza, bottling all their wines, pre and harvest of the Tritium farms. They offered three types of guided visits, the standard for 10€ and 60 minutes, the advance for 15€ and 90 minutes, and the Premium for 39€ and 120 minutes. More here:

Some facts on white wine in the Rioja. In March 1992, the cultivation of white grapes were discontinue in the Rioja; at this time there were 8 227 ha and 90% of it was the grape Viura or the local name for it, Macabeo, making it 18,67% of the total vineyard area of the denomination/DOC. Before that, many wineries had stopped producing white wine and the Marqués de Riscal had opted to do so from Rueda. By 2017 ,the planting has recovered just a part but already over 6 000 ha of white grapes or 9% of the total vineyard area. In the last five years the white grapes of Rioja has increase by volume 50% and pass the 14 millions liters to 21,5 million liters in the last available year as of October 2017. In the last 12 months ,the increase has been by 21% national and international markets according to Nielsen,therefore, from each four bottles of quality wine ,one is white wine or 27% of the commercialization of the region’s wines. Currently, the volume done by Rioja on white wine represent 7,5% from 5% coverage it had in 2010. Information translated from

However, wait a minute folks. I have done my family vacation on the last two years in Castilla La Mancha region, and as a wine aficionado with pro experience in this industry, I can tell you the wines here have improved tremendously and a lot cheaper still.

This I have purchased , drank locally and taken some bottles back with me and still very good deal. Finca Antigua Crianza from Bodega Finca Antigua (part of the Martinez Bujanda company), year 2012, tempranillo grapes 50% , Cabernet Sauvignon 20%, Merlot 20%, and Syrah 10%. It can still hold until 2023, and the price is 7€!!! Very nice tannins peaches, fine leather, cloves, vanilla on American oak in the background reaching complexity very nice flavor fine and long, in one word: Excellent. More here:

You have several others from wineries/bodegas of Guadalajara, Toledo,and Cuenca provinces as well as Albacete and Ciudad Real. Here you see half the total wine production of Spain! There is a lot of cheap industrial wine done by huge cooperatives or private giants companies offering wine from 2,75€. However, when you go up to a Pago Calzadilla, Rio Negro or Finca Antigua you are in heaven, pocketwise too. The tourist page of the region focus on wine is here:

As for tastings, leave you with some of my favorites in addition to the above.

Calzadilla Allegro 2010 100% Syrah for 16€, more here:

Finca Rio Negro  2012 24€ more here:

Illanas Crianza red  16€ of Bodega Gasillana, more here:

Enjoy it , and feel free.. the wines of Spain. In vino veritas ; Cheers!!!

2 Comments to “The wines of Rioja and Castilla La Mancha”

  1. We were lucky enough to stay at the Parador in Calahorra a few years ago and visited the cave at Haro. It is hard to beat the wines of the Rioja region for its fullness and oak taste. I am not familiar with the wines from Castilla La Mancha, though. Must correct that soon. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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