Rioja

Before the arrival of electricity, pumps, air conditioning and heating, wineries dug underground cellars to vinify and age their wines.  A fine example of this architecture is Bodega Conde de los Andes in Ollauri, the largest underground network of ageing cellars in the Rioja region. Loving maintenance and respect for ancient winemaking traditions by the owners, the Murua family, earned the winery an award for sustainable wine tourism from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network in 2018.

Imagine you’re a young couple with two small children.  You’re also wine lovers and would like to visit a Rioja winery.  But you have a problem:  you can’t find a baby sitter and your parents are busy.  What do you do with the kids?  The answer is simple – bring them with you to Bodegas Valdemar where they have an experience that is tailor-made for children:  “In Search of the Magic Grapes”. Bodegas Valdemar received a ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ award for innovative wine tourism experiences from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network for this program.

Bodegas Lecea in San Asensio is one of many underground wine cellars that lie underneath most of the villages in the Rioja region.  Sadly most of these cellars have fallen into disrepair if not completely destroyed.  Luis and his family are leading a movement to restore these old cellars that show an important part of Rioja's winemaking past.  The winery was awarded a 2018 Best Of Wine Tourism award for Architecture from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.

Ricardo and José Miguel Arambarri of the Vintae group are well known in the Rioja region for their novel approach to wine marketing.  So it was no surprise that they were the driving force behind Wine Fandango. This wine, tapas and cocktail bar and restaurant has quickly become one of Logroño’s favorite watering holes and received a special jury award at the Bilbao-Rioja 'Best Of Wine Tourism awards ceremony.

Bodegas Ramón Bilbao, in Haro in the heart of Rioja Alta, came up with the right idea with the creation of the Oculus Virtual Reality Experience that earned the winery a 2017 ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ award for Innovative Wine Tourism from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.

Using goggles, Oculus takes the visitor on a virtual journey that follows the progress of a grape from its birth to a wine glass.  It reflects Ramón Bilbao’s commitment to technological innovation to explain the winemaking process in an original, enjoyable way that is attractive to today’s tech savvy consumer.

Bodegas Valdelana, in the village of Elciego in Rioja Alavesa, is right behind the huge Marqués de Riscal winery/hotel complex, but it should not be overlooked by the discerning wine tourist.  It offers everything a visitor could ask for, and more. It’s no wonder that Valdelana received a “Best Of Wine Tourism award in the Art and Culture category in 2017.

It’s not easy to find Viñedos & Bodegas de Páganos. The estate is near the bottom of a hill between the villages of Laguardia and Páganos, leading you to believe that the owners, the Eguren family,  just want to be left alone to quietly go about their business.  And what a business it is!

The estate won an international ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ award for Architecture and Landscapes for its stunning ensemble of vineyards, winery and ageing cellars in the Alavesa subregion of Rioja.

A visit to Marqués de Riscal’s City of Wine is a walk through the history of Rioja. From the original winery built in 1858 to the spectacular Hotel Marqués de Riscal, designed by the renowned Canadian architect Frank O. Gehry, it’s no surprise that the 100,000 square meter City of Wine was the 2016 winner of an international ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ award in the Art & Culture category.

Seven historic wineries in the Railway Station district in Haro (Rioja) opened their doors to journalists, the wine trade and consumers for an exciting two-day tasting event and visit in September 2015.

At Totally Spain we admire the work of the Great Wine Capitals Network (GWC) and have entered its Guest Bloggers Program competition for the past two years. Last year was the first year and we were very proud to have our entry included but alas no joy. This year, we entered again. And we WON!

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