Bilbao | Rioja

In Rioja, winemaking, management, sales and marketing have been until recently almost exclusively a man’s world.  However, women in Rioja have broken through the glass ceiling in a big way and currently make several of Rioja’s most iconic brands as well as manage some of the most prestigious estates.  

Here are just a few of the outstanding women in the world of Rioja wine.   


Our 4-day Basque Country Essentials tour lingers in Laguardia, with a tasting at a family-run winery and a traditional Rioja wine country lunch. You’ll start in Bilbao for a chance to visit the Guggenheim museum. And after your Rioja sojourn, continue to a true gem of a seaside city, San Sebastian.

The medieval walled village of Laguardia in the Rioja Alavesa region in northern Spain is a great place to spend a relaxing weekend.  This village was founded as a fortress located on the top of a long, narrow hill with a commanding view of the surrounding landscape.  For centuries, battles between the armies of Castille and Navarre took place in the region for the control of the plain between the Cantabrian mountains and the Ebro river.

The Rioja region boasts a centuries-old grape growing and winemaking tradition but hasn’t stopped evolving. There’s a plan for every kind of wine tourist including underground cellars from as early as the 16th century, ‘industrial’ wineries founded in the 19th century that are still active today, the world’s most widely acclaimed museum of wine culture and avant-garde structures designed by internationally renowned architects.

Imagine discovering, in one picturesque neighborhood, the highest concentration of centuries-old wineries in the world. That’s what you’ll find in Haro’s deliciously walkable, “Barrio de la Estación.”

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.

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.


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