Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Wine Lover's Guide to A Weekend in La Rioja

On Valentine’s Day a while back, Carlos and I ventured out for a weekend getaway to La Rioja where I did what I do best....drink some good ol' vino. Although we were there for just a weekend, we were able to explore and enjoy the Rioja region that is rich in it's amazing grapes and vineyards, including discovering a bit of the city of Logroño. From the details of the bodega wine tours, where to stay, how to get there, and what I wish I should of done- this post is for all my fellow wine-lovers!

Getting to La Rioja
I definitely recommend renting a car to all of your La Rioja excursions that way you have the freedom to go to the winery of your choice (no matter how rural it is) at whatever time (drink responsibly though! Carlos was the DD during this trip and I definitely owe him). You could also try catching a train or bus to Logroño and then renting the car there- both are great options!

Where to Stay 
Carlos and I decided to opt out on a more rural and relaxing accommodation and stayed at a bed and breakfast in the mountains of La Rioja. Isolated and with no cellphone coverage (yeah I know a bit crazy- but for one night it was actually refreshing!), It was an exciting and different experience compared to staying at your traditional hotel. Another option for a La Rioja trip would be to stay in Logroño city center and visit the wineries while also seeing the capital of the La Rioja region.

The Wineries

Ysios: Designed in 2001, this winery has redefined the limits and design of a Spanish bodega. The architecture resembles the ocean and the mountains that cover the background of the grounds, all gorgeously situated in a tiny little pueblo 15 minutes away from Logroño center.

The winery and wine tour review: I personally loved this winery because although not a lot of people have heard about Ysios, it captures your attention with all its elegance and modernity. Only producing 30,000 bottles each year (and only 2% shipped outside of Spain), the exclusive brand only makes two types of reservas every year. As you can imagine, the quality of the wine is incomparable compared to your typical wine at a grocery or even wine store. During the wine tasting part of the tour, you try out their two types of reservas, one which is valued at 25 euros (definitely on the pricey side in Spain- where a good bottle is 7 euros), and the other one is valued at 60….so you know that for the price of the tour you get an extremely great deal. During the tasting they also offer charcuterie and bread crisps to cleanse your palette in between the tastings.

Overall rating: I’d definitely rate this winery a 4.5/5. Beautiful bodega, friendly staff, creative marketing, and amazing, exquisite wine…..what more could a wine lover want?

Bodega Marques de Riscal: This equally glorious winery has all the bells and whistles….and shall I say more. Although it’s known to be a traditional rioja, upon stepping onto the premises of the winery you’d think I’d be lying when I told you it’s a Spanish red “de toda la vida.”

The winery and wine tour review: Designed by Frank Gehry, the same architect who designed the incredible Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the building sparkles in the small town and shows off its titanium curves. The winery is also a five star hotel and belongs to the Starwood Hotels and Resorts chain. The tour was about 1.5 hours long, and although a bit commercialized than Ysios, it did give an interactive video on how their wine is made (something that I need for a visual person like me!). We tasted two of their numerous wines, a red reserva and a white. Although I personally did like the tour, appreciate the breathtaking winery, and loved the Marques de Riscal “vault” (which had exclusive wines from the 1800s!!), I was a bit thrown off by the selection of wines they had us try. Since this winery is a lot bigger than the first one we visited, we noticed the “commercialized” aspect of it since the wine they selected was just OK. Nevertheless however, I ended up still loving the experience and would definitely take back friends and family in the future.

Overall rating: 4/5. Beautiful winery, great tour, but a little commercialized. Still worth going!

If you’re ever in Logroño, I definitely recommend making a (half of a) day trip to see these two wineries and all they have to offer. They are only 10 minutes away from each other so if you go to one, you have to go to the other!

Camino de la Hoya, s/n
Guardia, Araba, Spain
Calle Torrea, 1 
Elciego, Alava, Araba, Spain

What are your favorite Spanish wineries?


  1. I never got to visit these wineries when I went to La Rioja, but oh, what I'd give to go now! Next time you're up there, I highly recommend Viña Tondonia in Haro :)

  2. I was at this place last week. This is such a joy as a place for food! I had a beautiful time here. It reminded me of other LA event venues. A beautiful, wonderful place that had excellent atmosphere.