Bilbao | Rioja

The Rioja ‘n’ Rollers share several characteristics:  in spite of their young age, they’re highly trained, with experience gained in their families' vineyards as well as in wineries around the world; they’re in love with small plots overlooked by big wineries, they don’t think that they’ll ever get rich making and selling wine and want to do things differently with unusual blends.

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.

There’s no shortage of superstar chefs in the Bilbao area.  The Guide Michelin 2018 has awarded rosettes to ten area restaurants, and many others, a recommendation. With so many places to choose from it’s safe to say that no matter where you go, it’s hard not to eat well in Bilbao.

While the ten rosette holders are the most coveted, with months-long waiting lists, a host of others feature up-and-coming chefs in new places that are well worth a visit.

The entire Rioja region is a great romantic destination, with its spectacular scenery of two majestic mountain ranges framing undulating hills with their patchwork of vineyards, picturesque villages, bike trails, hiking, hundreds of wineries, Michelin-starred restaurants and tapas bars.

The latest issue of 1843, the lifestyle magazine belonging to the Economist group features an article profiling the gastronomic scene in Bilbao, considered a worthy rival of its neighbor to the east and football rival San Sebastian.

One of the stars is chef Eneko Atxa's Azurmendi restaurant in Larrabetxu, with its avant-garde design reflecting Atxa's philosophy toward food.

Azurmendi received a 'Best Of Wine Tourism' award in 2008 from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.


The small winery Bodegas Lecea, without the resources of the large winemakers groups, has carried out, with effort and dedication, an impressive work of recovering abandoned underground wine cellars in Cerrillo Verballe of San Asensio, La Rioja.


In the wine cellar district of Ollauri, three old buildings and a spectacular plot of underground caves hold Bodegas Ollauri - Conde de los Andes. Since 2014 this winery assumes the legacy of the old Paternina.

Spain’s Royal Academy of Gastronomy recently announced its 2016 National Gastronomy Prizes for 2016.

Carlos Echapresto, co-owner and sommelier of the one Michelin-starred Venta Moncalvillo in La Rioja received the award for the best sommelier.  Echapresto is an internationally recognized wine specialist with a particularly deep knowledge of wines from the DOCa. Rioja.  The cellars house over 1300 different wines from all over the world.  The Academy emphasized Echapresto’s work as a tireless lecturer and promoter of Rioja wines.

The Rioja Regulatory Council recently announced that it had joined the steering committee of Bilbao-Rioja as part of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.

Fernando Salamero, president of the Council and administrative/finance director of Marqués de Riscal, winner of several Best Of Wine Tourism awards remarked, “The Council’s joining the Bilbao-Rioja partnership as part of our strategic plan should provide an important push to wine tourism in the Rioja region, giving us a more global vision.”


Subscribe to RSS - Bilbao | Rioja