Top Wineries to Visit in Rioja: A Tour of Bodegas Roda

In 1987, Mario Rotllant and Carmen Daurella arrived in La Rioja to start a bodega with a new word in winemaking.  The name RODA combined the two last names of the founders.

The new winery, extremely successful today, stands in the Haro Train Station District, next to  the historic wineries of Rioja built in the 19th century. However, Bodegas Roda follows a very different philosophy in everything from the architecture of its building to the approach to winemaking and the style of its wines

The Perdigon vineyard of Bodegas Roda is just outside Haro.  You can see it if you walk along the river Ebro in the direction of Brinas. It will be on your right side.  Spectacular views all around.

At Bodegas Roda, the winemakers follow the so-called Bordeaux chateau method, in the sense of using only grapes from the estate owned parcels to produce wine. Harvesting is done by hand and different vintages are never mixed.

The winery itself is in Haro, next to the historic bodega R. Lopez de Heredia and right over a 19th century “calado”, an impressive underground cellar.

You cannot miss Roda in Haro, its sign dominates the Train Station District.  Roda is the first winery that you see entering Haro Train Station District from the highway.

The train station of Haro dates back to the 19th century.  Its tracks were built to ship wines to France during the devastating phylloxera times when all French vineyards died out.  Haro is connected to Bilbao and Santander, the port cities on the Bay of Biscay.  Wine would arrive at the ports by train and then shipped over to Bordeaux by sea.  The wine industry of Haro was so important that the town was one of the first in Spain to receive electricity.  

I imagined the train station to be something very old and historic. How surprised was I to find a modern Spanish train station, surrounded by world-famous bodegas.  

My impression of Bodegas Roda is that it is very similar to a Bordeaux winery just very large. Of course, there are major differences, but this vat room alone made me feel a bit like in the Medoc.

Here, vinification is done in temperature-controlled French oak vats and aging is completed in French oak barrels.

Barrels, hundreds of barrels are everywhere and they are familiarly painted red in the middle. 

A French oak barrel is made of 200-year-old tree, of which only 30% can be used for barrel making.  Barrels are made by hand and then used only for a couple of vintages.  With a cost of a barrel at around 1,000 euros, imagine, the investment and work that goes into only one of these cellars.  But Bodegas Roda has three.

Besides this impressive modern cellar, you will visit a couple of very unusual ones.

The winery looks very modern on the outside, but it stands on top of “calado”, an underground cellar built in the 19th century.  “Calados” are often found in this area.  

In the past, they were used as cool spaces to keep crops, food and wine. Today, at Bodegas Roda, the underground space is turned into an aging cellar where the wine spends between 6 months and several years.

The top wines of the estate are held in “calados” which have been extended to create a huge underground aging cellar for premium Roda wines (below). 

These cellars are dark and moist creating ideal temperatures for the aging of Rioja wines.

My guide opens the door at the end of the historic calados, and we are on the banks of the river Ebro. This looks like a great spot for tastings and picnics with the views and the river breeze.  

If you are looking for a private tour here, look into the Ebro Balcony option.  It includes tasting of four wines paired with tortilla (Spanish omelette), jamon, salads and other Riojan delicacies. 

Our tasting was organized in the modern side of the winery, on a terrace with a view of vineyards, Haro on the hill and by a fish pond – another amazing outdoor tasting room.

Bodegas Roda produces 4 red wines:  Sela, a young wine, two reserva wines, Roda and Roda I as well as a collection gem Cirsion. 

Every year Bodegas Roda sends several people to search for the best old vines in the region which can then be made into Cirsion. They do not find good enough grapes each year, so Cirsion is only made in good years. We tasted 2017 – cherry and violet dominate the palate. Cirsion is a young wine that spends only 8 months aging in new French barrels.  The wine is fruity, fresh, yet has an impressive body and pleasant tannins.  

Besides wines, Bodegas Roda offers tasting of two premium olive oil brands that the owners produce in the island of Majorca.

Book your visit to Bodegas Roda online or call them directly to arrange your private tour and tasting.

Happy tasting in Rioja!  Find your Rioja wine tour here.

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See my blog for more great wineries to visit in Rioja and other tips on visiting Rioja vineyards.

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