10 Wineries From the 19th Century and Earlier in the Rioja Wine District
The main attraction at wineries is wine, of course, but history and architecture are also important parts of the experience. These ten wineries in Rioja were all founded in the 19th century or earlier and each one of them has a fascinating story, special quality, and enduring spirit that have made them sought after destinations and wine tourism award winners.
1. CVNE Haro
CVNE (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) was founded in 1879 by brothers Eusebio and Raimundo Real de Asúa. The current estate includes the original winery premises from 1879 and is known for it’s many innovations such as the first concrete fermentation cellar in Spain built in 1940. But the most famous structure may be the cellar built with steel trusses, running from wall to wall to allow for an unobstructed open space and designed by none other than French architect Gustave Eiffel. (And you thought he only built towers!) Today the company is run by the fifth generation of the founding family and continues a tradition of quality and spirit of innovation. Best Of Wine Tourism Award—2004 and 2009.
2. Bodegas Lopez de Heredia
The oldest winery in Haro and one of the first three bodegas in the Rioja region is Bodegas R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia. The winery was the dream of Rafael López de Heredia, the son of Basque émigrés to Chile. López de Heredia returned to Spain to attend school, joined the Carlist army and after its defeat, was exiled to France. In Bordeaux he learned about the wine business. Around 1877 he began the design and construction of the complex that is today known as the López de Heredia bodega (winery). The company, now run by the founder’s great-grandchildren, carry on his winemaking traditions. This philosophy has earned the winery the admiration and respect of the wine trade in Spain and abroad. Best Of Wine Tourism Award—2007.
3. Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta
Luciano de Murrieta was the aide-de-camp to Spain’s General Baldomero Espartero. He visited Bordeaux in the middle of the 19th century, bringing that region’s winemaking techniques to Rioja in 1852, where he applied them to local grapes. The Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta estate near Logroño has been in the family since 1511. And although it has undergone extensive remodeling over the years, it maintains the essence of the original winery. In the 1990’s the estate focused all its efforts on growing albariño, the local grape. Best Of Wine Tourism Award—2015.
4. Bodegas de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal
Founded in Elciego (Álava) in 1858 by Guillermo Hurtado de Amézaga, Bodegas de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal is one of the oldest Rioja wineries. Camilo Hurtado de Amézaga, the Marquis of Riscal was a pioneer in Rioja. With the help of a winemaker from Bordeaux, Hurtado applied Bordeaux methods of vineyard husbandry and winemaking in a winery especially built for this purpose in 1861. Today the past and present are bridged with the creation of The City of Wine, an ambitious project devoted to making, caring for, and studying wine. The Frank O. Gehry designed building is the centerpiece of the grounds surrounded by the original cellars and vast vineyards. Best Of Wine Tourism Award—2007, 2008, 2016.
5. Conde de los Andes
In the heart of Rioja Alta, a short distance away from Haro and Briones, the Conde de los Andes one kilometer-long underground winery was first excavated over 500 years ago. In 1894 Federico Paternina built the modern cellar where his ancestors had been making and storing wine in Ollauri since the 15th century. Situated on high Churrumendi Hill between the Sierra de la Demanda peaks and the limestone walls of Sierra Cantabria and Toloño mountain ranges, the winery offers unparalleled views of the River Ebro valley. Today, with the Murúa family at the helm, Bodegas Ollauri-Conde de los Andes brings back an age-old tradition.
6. Bodegas La Rioja Alta
In operation for over 125 years La Rioja Alta is situated in the Railway Station district of Haro and home to some of Rioja’s most iconic brands: 890, 904, Viña Ardanza, Viña Alberdi and Viña Arana—the last three of which are named in honor of the winery’s founders. Five Riojan and Basque families founded the ‘Sociedad Vinícola de La Rioja Alta’ and the first president was a woman: Doña Saturnina García Cid y Gárate. The Reserva 1890 (predecessor of today's Gran Reserva 890) was the first made by Monsieur Vigier, a Frenchman, the wineries first winemaker. Best Of Wine Tourism Award—2005.
7. Bodegas Valdelana
Bodegas Valdelana in the historic village of Elciego, sits on top of the remains of a 500-year old winery, which the Valdelana family has painstakingly restored. The family crossed over the Sierra de Codes and part of the Cantabrian mountain range before settling in the village of Elciego where they initiated a great grape growing and winemaking trade. A must stop for lovers of wine and wine history; the winery houses an ethnographic museum with ancient artifacts and winemaking tools. Sights to see include the cut-stone wine-cellars, Chapel, and tunnel of the senses. You can even stay on site surrounded by history in a restored ancient building located above the 15th century cellars. Best Of Wine Tourism Award—2011, 2012.
8. Bodega El Fabulista
La Bodega El Fabuslista (The Fabulist’s Cellar) is located under the Palace of the Samaniegos, where Félix María de Samaniego the 18th century storyteller was inspired to write his literary works. The winery cellar is one of the largest underground cellars in the entire region. Guided tours of the cellar take visitors deep into the caves and through the working winery that uses the winemaking traditions from the 18th and 19th centuries including a press from 1903 and a “despalilladora” a machine used to remove the stalks from the grapes. Best Of Wine Tourism Award
9. Bodegas Franco-Españolas
As its name indicates, Franco-Españolas was founded in Logroño by a French businessman, Fréderic Anglade in 1890, who, together with local partners, were important members of the Riojan winemaking community during the first international expansion of the Rioja brand. The winery, one of the largest in La Rioja, has been lovingly refurbished while retaining the flavor of the original 19th century property. A well-developed wine tourism program called Enoexperiences (experiences with wine) is designed to fully engage visitors senses both gastronomically and culturally. Best of Wine Tourism Award—2012.
10. Bodegas Riojanas
Bodegas Riojanas was founded in Cenicero, a historic wine village in Rioja Alta, in 1890. One of the founding families, Artacho, still manages the company. The current facility is made up of the original 1890 winery as well as several additions and over 200 hectares of vineyards in Rioja Alta. Riojanas is open to wine tourists, featuring the ‘Wine Sensations Room’ which offers the visitor an interactive journey through the senses. The visual area shows how the color of wine evolves in oak and bottle. The olfactory area invites the visitor to guess twelve characteristics of wine by means of a smell-sight game. In the tactile area one can touch a grapevine, a cluster of grapes and a barrel stave. The winery also features a fully equipped conference center for meetings, seminars and other events as well as a wine shop to taste and purchase a wide range of products from the winery and its affiliates.