Bilbao | Rioja

When the name of your gastrobar is Wine Fandango and your logo is a ‘porrón’ (an old time wine bottle), it’s no surprise that here things are done in a different way.

The Rioja Wine Train takes wine lovers on a fascinating trip to the Haro Train Station District, home of seven wineries, five of which were founded in the 19th century.  During the daylong experience a theater company and the wineries themselves entertain and educate the travelers about the importance of the railroad to the international expansion of Rioja wines. 

The Great Wine Capitals Global Network recognized this initiative by bestowing on The Rioja Wine Train a 2019 regional award from Bilbao-Rioja as well as an international ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ award.

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 along! 

Cava is one of Spain’s most unusual denominations in that it is shaped by method rather than by geography. Though most fans know it as a product of the Catalan region, a number of Rioja wineries also make Cavas. And they’re what locals pour at celebrations here, where cuisine, art, and architecture bring on the season’s cheer.

The most eagerly anticipated meal of the year in both the Rioja region and the Basque Country is supper on December 24.  As an American who has lived in Spain for almost 50 years, this meal is only comparable in scope and sentiment to Thanksgiving.  We look forward to dressing up, greeting our family members at the door with a glass of bubbly and sitting down to enjoy a multi-course meal, together with regional wines paired specifically for each dish, with holiday music playing in the background. It’s the time of year when we bring out the best of the wines we’ve been collecting throughout the year.

The region consolidates its position as a top dining experience

 

The Guide Michelin recently awarded new stars to three Bilbao-Rioja area restaurants in in 2019:  Eneko and Atelier Etxanobe in Bilbao and Íkaro in Logroño.

With the addition of these restaurants, a total of fifteen dining establishments from the Bilbao-Rioja area boast Michelin stars. 

Already holding stars are:

The Rioja Wine Train involves both public and private initiatives in favor of wine tourism and the promotion of Rioja wine.

The train runs from Logroño to Haro in the morning and returns to Logroño in the afternoon.  On arrival in Haro, the passengers are bussed to several wineries where they enjoy tastings and lunch.

From the moment they board the train, passengers are entertained by a theater group where they not only enjoy a few laughs but learn about Rioja wine at the same time.

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.

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