Tempranillo anyone? I was in Haro, (the capital of Rioja) Spain for 2 short but blissful days this past August and I’m here to quite literally give you the juice. Although I was able to squeeze in 7 Bodegas, I’m sharing with you my top 5 and why.
If you only have time for one tour, this is your stop (and make sure to book well ahead of time through their website). Dating back to 1877, Viña Tondonia has one of the oldest cellars in the region. Not only do they have one of the oldest cellars, but they also still utilize many of the original tools/practices during the winemaking process! Take a ride through the Joven, Crianza, and Reserva wines barrel aged MUCH longer than what the DOC rules require. Before you leave, make sure to pick up a bottle of Tondonia, which was named after the Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta’s earliest quest for perfection!
2. Bodegas Muga
If you’re itching for a little winery adventure, Bodegas Muga is your stop. Offering activities such as hot air balloon rides and Segway trips through the property, it’s easy to spend half the day wrapped up in the Tempranillo magic. If you just need to get down to “wine business,” you can drop by the tasting room (check hours before you go) without an appointment. If you’re planning on spending more time in Spain, get used to seeing Muga EVERYWHERE! My go-to in the 90-degree heat? The Rosé obviously.
Hospitality rules! There’s something about seeing the winery staff have so much pride in their wine that makes each sip more special than the last. From the moment I stepped into the winery I could feel the warm fuzzy boutique vibes. With an annual production of only 200,000 bottles, I knew I was going to clean house. Sit outside in the sunshine while each wine is passionately poured and explained to you in detail. Made in the traditional way, the whites here were my favorite expression. Need me to prove the whites were out of this world? My husband actually agreed to stock half the case with them!
Dying for super special wines by the glass? La Rioja Alta will literally make your dreams come true (make sure to check wine bar hours). With an illuminated bar top so you can see the beautiful pigment of the older wines, you get a modern vibe on the inside with an old town feel porch outside. I spent my time at Alta reconnecting with family over a glass of 1997 Gran Reserva 904. If I can promise anything, it’s that you won’t find a glass of ANYTHING 21 years old in New York for under $26. Make sure to go and take advantage!
Although I was a bit hazy on our last stop of the day, it doesn’t mean I remember my experience any less at CVNE (standing for Compañia Vinicola del Norte del España). Open until 6:30pm (check tasting room hours beforehand), CVNE was a treat to end the day. Reaching for innovation while keeping true to their roots, CVNE is still controlled by direct descends of its founders. My favorite part of the experience was choosing the tasting flight I wanted and having the bottles lined up in front of me so I could consciously put a visual label to the tasting experience. Each pour was also done with a Coravin to ensure optimal vibrancy!