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During the recent visit to Rioja of a one hundred-person delegation from the World Tourism Organization, its Secretary-General Zurab Polokikashvili confessed that he was “in love with La Rioja”. It’s not surprising, given Rioja’s spectacular scenery, the well-deserved reputation of Rioja wines, the wineries’ increasing focus on tourism, and the region’s vibrant food culture.
A less known fact is that Rioja is an up-and-coming golf destination, featuring a major push by clubs, local businesses and the regional tourism office to attract golfers from all over the world to play the courses, visit Rioja wineries and enjoy local and regional cuisine.
Golfers can play four courses: three in La Rioja —El Campo de Logroño, Sojuela and La Rioja Alta— and one just over the Cantabrian mountains in nearby Álava: Izki Golf. The courses have been carved out of the region’s picturesque valleys and rolling hills and are enjoyable for golfers of all skill levels —as long as the ball stays on the fairway!
This national and international push doesn’t mean that local golfers are left out. For nine years, Rioja’s regional newspaper La Rioja and The Logroño Golf Club have organized a series of winery-sponsored golf tournaments, aptly named Golf y Vino (Golf and Wine), promoted through the newspaper’s wine website lomejordelvinoderioja.com.
A Rioja winery sponsors each tournament —ten in total. The winners of each flight and the scratch category receive prizes donated by the sponsoring winery and points in an order of merit. At each tournament’s awards ceremony, a representative of the winery gives a short presentation and a tasting for the players. In the final tournament of the year, the highest ranked golfers in the order of merit compete for the grand prize in each category, awarded at a gala dinner.
In recognition of Rioja’s efforts to promote golf, the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) named Logroño-La Rioja as its 2019 Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year.
If you happen to be in Rioja at the end of October, don’t miss the Spanish Men’s PGA Golf Championship at the Logroño Golf Club (El Campo de Logroño) from October 28 through November 3.
It’s easy to see that if you’re a golfer, the Rioja region should be on your bucket list!