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Okay maybe Rioja wine isn’t your thing, but we absolutely love it and were very excited to be staying near Logroño Spain for the week. This was now the start of week 5 of our epic 8 week road trip around Spain & France. Okay for all of you in the USA, this is like staying in Napa Valley California or Champagne France! It’s wine country, and we had no trouble finding opportunities to drink wine.
Get rid of the teen!
First order of business was to drop Lars off at his summer camp volunteer program. He was volunteering at an English immersion summer camp for Spanish teens, about 10 minutes outside of Logroño Spain. We stayed in the same village, but didn’t see Lars the full week. Hopefully Lars will write about his wonderful experience with Diverbo for you.
Were You Drunk All Week?
While we didn’t partake in the Rioja wine every day, we did every other day! We visited 2 wineries, had a private tasting and of course made our own purchases for home. Oh when I say home, I mean wherever we happen to be living that week.
I must say choosing which wineries we wanted to visit was a bit daunting, as there are hundreds of wineries to choose from. Of course we weren’t going to be out drinking wine all day every day, plus we were doing the self-drive tour and needed to remain safe. We also had loads of writing and work to do, so we just planned a few trips out and about. Eventually we ended up selecting one traditional winery and another which was very well known with a twist of modern. Lastly we had a special unexpected treat.
Tip: When seeking out Rioja Wineries, take advantage of the La Rioja Tourism website, with a full listing of wineries. They include filters, so you can narrow down the activities you are interested in as well as location, parking, wine bars, etc. It really is a great tool and you can click here to use it.
Stop #1 Bodegas Muga
This is a traditional winery and has been producing great wines since 1932. Many of the wineries require you make a reservation to take a tour or have a tasting. We just weren’t organized enough to have scheduled everything in advance, but this Bodega offered something special. They had a wine bar!
I read that some of the wineries offered wine bars, where you can just walk in and purchase a tasting menu. There’s no tour or any fancy fanfare, just wine drinking! This was exactly what we wanted. Anya could only tolerate so many winery tours and we had taken her on several in the past.
Give me a taste of that Rioja Wine!
We arrived at the winery and found a few empty seats up at the wine bar. We were instantly greeted and presented with the tasting menu. Let me tell you, I wish we had a designated driver with us, the menu was amazing! They offered special tasting menus, selecting either 1/2 glass each of 5 wines plus a glass of cava, or a full glass of each with a glass of cava.
Alan and I behaved and just shared the 1/2 glass tasting, so we each had 1/4 glass of 5 different wines, plus the glass of cava, all for just €7! I will say, the 1/2 glass wasn’t too modest either. Believe me, if we had a driver or were staying nearby, we could have walked to many other wineries too.
Wine brings new friends!
As we were enjoying the first glass of wine, the young couple next to us asked where we were from. They were Americans spending their first wedding Anniversary touring Spain. It was about 1pm and they had already made a visit to a couple of other wineries and were killing time waiting for Spanish lunch (2pm). They had no idea the Spanish ate so late. We of course found this entertaining and were glad they had to wait for lunch.
They were absolutely adorable and we were all instant friends with a very lively conversation. We stayed for quite a while visiting and even had a little fun with the huge instagram board the winery had available. I would highly recommend this wine bar and we loved every single wine we tasted!
Tip: Look for the Bodega Wine Bars! Many wineries have a wine bar with tasting menus. If you are short on time or don’t want another winery tour, this is a great way to sample the various Rioja wine options, on your own schedule. At Bodegas Muga we paid just €7 to have a 1/2 glass tasting of 5 wines and a glass of cava too! I think that is a great deal! So look for those wine bars.
A Day of Luxury at Marqués de Riscal
This was an extra special day for us, as I have wanted to see this winery for some time. We had organized the wine tour in advance, but also schedule a tour of the hotel and the afternoon enjoying the spa. Ideally, we would have stayed at the hotel for 1 glorious night, but we enjoyed as much as we could in one day. We have detailed out the entire day, so check out the article now! I think technically this is just across the La Rioja border in Cantabria.
When you book a room at the hotel, your winery tour and full access to the spa are included with your room price. Wanna stay in a little luxury? Check here for Marques de Riscal Hotel pricing and availability.
The Private Rioja Wine Experience
Lastly our 3rd wine experience was a special unexpected bonus. The owners of our apartment were wine makers! They invited us over to their home and gave us a tour of their private cellar. We learned how they started with winemaking and how it’s the family passion. The cellar was incredible, full of charm and they even gave us a bottle of their wine. It was a privilege to spend time with them and have them show us the private life of a winemaker. I highly recommend staying with them. You can see more below in the “Where we stayed” section.
Wine Tours in La Rioja Spain
La Rioja is a province and autonomous community in northern Spain with a well-known wine industry. It is a small Autonomous Community, just south of the Cantabrian Mountains. Most vineyards are located in the Ebro valley and surround the old town of Haro. This is also where our bucket list festival occurs every June! The Batalla de Vino (wine battle). Yep a massive wine fight. We will get there one year. The local wineries range from small, traditional cellars to major commercial producers.
If you are looking for organized Rioja wine tours, which leave the driving to someone else, check out all of the Wine Tours available on Viator. There are so many to choose from and they offer some really great deals. Just click this link and I have already placed the search parameters in for you.
It wasn’t all about wine
We also just enjoyed small town living, with a 2 minute walk to the local bakery, town center, open air market and my favorite, coffee! It was nice to just roam around town and see how the locals live. It was busy enough to keep us entertained, fed and close to so many things.
Of course we drove into Logroño a few times, as Alan was in need of new shoes. With those big feet, we do need to hit the bigger cities. This time we happened to find an outlet mall, so he got two pair for the price of one! We love deals.
There are also many organized tours for you to enjoy from being active on walking or biking tour, to enjoying a food or wine tour. There is so much to do and Viator has so many great offers for you. Click here to see their latest Spain Deals!
Where did we stay?
We opted to stay in the small village of Navarrete, just outside of Logroño Spain. This provided us with a good central location and the small town experience we like. Of course we stayed in a place with loads of character. It was a historical apartment, right in the center of town and we couldn’t have been happier. We loved that the owners were wine makers and provided us with a private cellar tour and bottle of wine!
Our apartment was booked through Airbnb. If you are a first time user of Airbnb, we have a discount for you, just click here and you will receive $34 off of your first booking.
Where to stay near Logroño Spain
Of course you can choose what type of experience you would like. If you prefer more of a city experience and action, then you may want to look near Logroño Spain. You can even take a look and stay in Bilbao, as it is just about 45-90 minutes from most wineries. We think there are some great options and here are some of the booking tools we use:
- Home Away Apartments & Villas – click here for deals
- Flip Key Apartments, Villas, & more – click here for availability and pricing
- Booking.com Apartments, Hotels & more – click here for availability and pricing
- Airbnb – if you are new to Airbnb and are looking to either rent a room or the entire place, use this code to receive a $34 USD discount on your first booking.
- House sitting – Stay in luxury homes worldwide free of charge
Other Rioja Wine Resources
- Maribel’s Guide is by far the most informative and thorough guide to Rioja Wine Country!
- Wine Tours available on Viator
- La Rioja Tourism
- Details of good Rioja Wines on Wikipedia, including other Spanish wine regions.
Okay, time for your comments! Let us know what you think. Have you visited La Rioja Spain? Do you love Rioja wine?