Bodegas Valdelana has created a wine tourism experience focusing on the breathtaking beauty of the Ebro River valley. The site is a spectacular lookout point high above a meander in the Ebro River near the Valdelana family winery and vineyards in the village of Elciego in Rioja Alavesa.
This focus on nature earned Bodegas Valdelana a 2024 Best Of Wine Tourism award from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.
Learning about vineyards and grape growing
The lookout experience begins with a visit to a 1920 Singular Vineyard, a prestigious designation recognized by the Rioja Regulatory Board, followed by a visit to an over 80-year-old vineyard. In a third vineyard, ‘El jardín de las variedades’, the family has planted over one hundred of the world’s best known grape varieties. In this natural laboratory, the Valdelana family and scientists from the Viticulture Department of the University of La Rioja study the adaptation of these varieties to the soil and climate of Rioja Alavesa. Today, with climate change the buzzword of the grape and wine business, learning about the behavior of these varieties is an invaluable resource.
From this spectacular vantage point, visitors can see the natural landscapes that form the Ebro valley – the Sierra Cantabria and Sierra de la Demanda mountains to the north and south – and the winding Ebro itself. It is easy to spot different soil types on both sides of the river as well as the patchwork of hundreds of small vineyards below.
Education and events
Valdelana has built three enclosed spaces near the lookout for activities that include wine and olive oil tastings, and meals of typical regional dishes like baby lamb chops grilled over vine cuttings and potato stew with spicy sausage prepared by area restaurants.
On the five-hectare (12.35 acre) terrace, there is a large ‘chill out’ area with artificial turf, benches made from pallets, tables, a stage for a musical group or a DJ and the family’s food truck for serving wine. Here, visitors can relax after a tasting or a meal or take a turn on a swing for a more emotion-packed view of the scenery from the lookout point.
Showing visitors the wonders of the night sky earned Valdelana a 2012 International ‘Best Of’ Wine Tourism award for Innovative Wine Tourism. The event, called Stellar Marriage, begins at sunset with a cocktail and live music. After sundown, visitors take a guided tour of the heavens. Juan Jesús Valdelana points out five constellations and explains the legend behind each one, along with a tasting of five top-of-the-range wines.
One of the most recent activities promoted by Bodegas Valdelana aims to attract visitors interested in ornithology. From an observation post near a local wetland, birders can search for and identify both the local and migratory bird populations.
Juan Jesús Valdelana says,
At Bodegas Valdelana we have always tried to create experiences that allow visitors and lovers of culture to feel our connection with the countryside, with nature. We believe that we have created one of the winery’s most attractive and exciting experiences, located in this corner of Rioja Alavesa whose panoramic vistas make it unique.
There’s lots to enjoy inside the winery, too!
While Valdelana are pioneers in attracting wine tourists to learn about and enjoy the incomparable beauty of the Riojan landscape, there’s much to discover inside this winery whose underground foundations date back to the 15th and 16th century: tasting courses, a visit to the winery museum with its interesting ethnographic museum, and the Tunnel of the Senses.
Learn about these activities here
Extend your stay in Rioja at the winery hotel
For those who wish to explore the Rioja region further to include a weekend visit, inside the winery building there is a cozy, award-winning 12-room rural hotel.
Puente Barrihuelo 67-69
01340 Elciego, Álava, Spain.
T: (+34) 945 606 055
Text by Tom Perry, Inside Rioja
Photo credits: Bodegas Valdelana.
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