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For centuries, wines from Rioja were shipped in horse or ox drawn wagons on dirt roads over mountain passes to the port of Bilbao and from there, by ship to the rest of Europe and America. The opening in the mid-nineteenth century of a railway line from Tudela to Bilbao, that included a station in Haro, prompted Spanish and French entrepreneurs to build wineries around the station to facilitate shipment of their wines.
The Haro Station district is the largest concentration of pre-20th century wineries in the world, and this unique fact was the reason the owners of the wineries joined forces to create the Haro Station Wine Experience, now in its third edition.
The Experience is one of the most widely anticipated events on the Spanish wine tasting calendar. Seven Rioja wineries – five of them founded over a century ago – López de Heredia (1977), CVNE (1879), Gómez Cruzado (1886), La Rioja Alta (1890) and Bodegas Bilbaínas (1901) – as well as Muga (1932) and Roda (1987) will open their doors for tastings and tours of their facilities for the general public on June 16 and for professionals on June 18.
During the open house, each winery will highlight its latest releases and will offer a gourmet ‘tapa’ prepared by local Michelin chefs Francis Paniego - who boasts two Michelin stars at his family’s restaurant Echaurren in nearby Ezcaray and one at the Marqués de Riscal Hotel in Elciego – and Ignacio Echapresto at the one-starred Venta Moncalvillo. They will be joined by chef Juan Ángel Rodrigálvarez, winner of Spain’s prestigious National Gastronomy Award in 2010 who will prepare a special dessert.
At the professional tasting, each winery will show two specialties at a tasting led by Sarah Jane Evans MW along with video presentations by three historians illustrating the development of the Rioja wine trade in the 19th century.
The Haro Train Station Experience was the winner of a ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ award in 2015 for Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences.
For more information: http://lacatadelbarriodelaestacion.com/en/
Tickets are available for advance purchase at the above website. At the door, the price is 103€.
Top photo credit: Ruta del Vino de Rioja Alta. Other photos: La Cata del Barrio de la Estación.