My visit to a modern winery in Rioja built on...Read More
Marques de Riscal winery near Elciego.
If you are in this beautiful region or just planning your trip and wondering where to go for a Rioja wine tasting from San-Sebastian, Bilbao or Madrid, take a look at my ideas of the best wineries to visit in Rioja.
When I plan my wine tours, I try to visit wineries with the best winemaking reputation. A nice tasting room does not always equal excellent wines.
High-quality “artisanal” wines, interesting stories, unique production techniques and remarkable architecture are all good reasons to visit a particular winery (bodega).
However, I always look for wineries producing the best classic examples of the regional style.
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate is a trusted authority in the world of wine. I often follow their professional opinion when choosing wineries to visit and wines to taste.
I have put the Rioja wineries definitely worth visiting on a map so that you can create your own Rioja wine tasting itinerary based on your interests and location.
If you don’t feel like tasting wines and driving around, consider a private or a small-group wine tour.
Find more practical advice on visiting Rioja wineries in my Rioja wine guide.
A typical wine tour itinerary is starting from Haro and ending in Logrono, the two main towns of La Rioja. However, you have all the flexibility to explore these wineries in any order or direction.
Just be sure to check opening hours and to make your visit appointments in advance. Also, keep in mind that winery visits and tastings tend to take about 1.5 hours. Confirm tour durations with wineries.
Some, but not all wineries offer lunch and picnic options. You may want to book these visits around lunchtime.
Vina Real cellars from cvne.com
Viña Real is part of CVNE, Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (wine company of northern Spain) which also owns other Rioja wineries including CVNE and Continuo in La Rioja. The winery is located half-way between Logroño and Laguardia.
The Viña Real brand was launched in the 1920s. The proximity of the vineyards to the old Camino Real (King’s Road) inspired its name.
The winery presents an architectural interest. It was designed by French architect Philippe Mazières. The main winery building is made in the shape of a giant wine fermentation vat.
In 2004, the new winery was inaugurated by King of Spain Juan Carlos, who personally buys a barrel of their wines each year.
Viña Real Crianza 2016 – 91 Parker points
Viña Real Reserva 2015 – 93 Parker points
Viña Real Gran Reserva 2013 – 92 Parker points
Pagos de Viña Real 2016 -94 Parker points
To learn more about the best-rated wines of Viña Real and the CVNE group review their press release here.
Visits are held Monday through Sunday and cost 15 euros per adult and 5 euros for kids. The winery closes Monday and Tuesday during July and August.
Be sure to visit the cellars that are a true architectural wonder. However, if you are short on time, you can drop in for a quick 15-minute tasting which costs 6 euros.
Management is very welcoming. There are lunch, brunch and picnic options at the winery, and even a children’s workshop.
How about a wedding at the avant-garde Viña Real?
The winery is fully accessible for people with disabilities.
Book your visit online.
CVNE cellar in Haro, Rioja, designed by Gustav Eiffel.
CVNE stands for Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (or the wine company of Northern Spain). The winery was founded in 1879 by brothers Eusebio and Raimundo Real de Asúa from Basque country, and Isidro Corcuera from La Rioja.
Today, CVNE is lead by the fifth generation of the Real de Asúa family, and there have only been five chief winemakers during this time including the current Technological Director Rioja-native Maria Larrea. I was surprised to learn that the majority of winemakers at the CVNE group are women. Located in the heart of the traditional Train Station District in Haro, the winery is composed of 22 buildings, which include the original 1879 premises, as well as the plant designed and built by the Gustav Eiffel architectural studio in 1909.
The 545 hectares (1,350 acres) of vineyards that CVNE owns account for 50% of the company’s production, and are distributed between the two subregions of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, under the influence of the Atlantic and Mediterranean climates.
Cune Crianza 2016 – 90 Parker points
Cune Reserva 2015 – 90 Parker points
Cune Gran Reserva 2013 – 91 Parker points
Cune Gran Reserva 2012 – 91 Parker points
CVNE Real de Asúa 2016 – 93 Parker points
Imperial Reserva 2015 – 93 Parker points
Imperial Gran Reserva 2012 – 95 Parker points
To learn more about the best wines of the CVNE group review their release here.
Guided tours run from Monday to Sunday, with prices starting from 6 euros per adult and 3 euros for kids. The winery closes on Tuesday during the summer months.
There are a wine bar and a wine shop on the premises. You can have a traditional lunch along with the visit and tasting. If you are with kids, CVNE offers a children’s workshop.
Book your visit online on the CVNE website.
Contino is the jewel of the group CVNE collection. Viñedos del Contino was founded in 1973 by CVNE. The estate was created as the first one using the “château” concept in Rioja, meaning that Contino wines are made exclusively from the grapes grown on its 62 hectares (153 acres) of vines surrounding the winery.
Located in an almost 200-years old manor house in Alava, Contino was built on top of the 16th-century caves. The “contino” means an officer who protected the royal family “de contino” (continuously) from the times of the Catholic Kings.
Contino Viña del Olivo 2017 – 94 Parker points
Contino Reserva 2015 – 94 Parker points
Contino Gran Reserva 2012 – 93 Parker points
Contino Garnacha 2017 – 93 Parker points
Contino Blanco 2017 – 91 Parker points
To learn more about the best wines of Contino and the CVNE group review their release here.
The guided visit includes a tour through the winery and vineyards, followed by a wine tasting with local appetizers. The price is 25 euros per person.
Tours run Monday through Saturday. The winery closes on Mondays and Tuesdays during the summer months.
Book your visit online.
Bodegas Sierra Cantabria was founded by Guillermo Eguren, who’s family native to Rioja, had grown grapes in Rioja Alavesa since the 1870’s.
Today, the fourth generation of the Eguren family directs all aspects of the winemaking process. All of the grapes are estate grown, and they do not source fruit from any third party producers.
The family manages 4 wineries in Rioja: Sierra Cantabria, Viñedos Sierra Cantabria, Señorio de San Vicente and Viñedos de Pagans, as well as Teso de Monja in Toro, and Dominio de Eguren in Tierra de Castilla.
La Nieta 2016 – 98 Parker points
El Puntido Gran Reserva 2007 – 96 Parker points
Finca El Boque 2016 by Viñedos Sierra Cantabria – 96 Parker points
Sierra Cantabria Mágico 2016 by Viñedos Sierra Cantabria – 96 Parker points
San Vicente 2015 by Señorío de San Vicente – 94 Parker points
Amancio 2015 – 94 Parker points
Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada 2016 – 94 Parker points
El Puntido 2015 by Viñedos de Páganos – 93 Parker points
Sierra Cantabria Garnacha 2016 – 92 Parker points
Sierra Cantabria Gran Reserva 2009 – 92 Parker points
Sierra Cantabria Crianza 2016 – 91 Parker points
Sierra Cantabria Reserva Única 2015 – 91 Parker points
Sierra Cantabria Organza 2017 white – 91 Parker points
To learn more about the best wines of Sierra Cantabria review their press release here.
The bodega is located in Haro. Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta, who returned to his homeland from France, started building the bodega that became a “cathedral to wine” with vaulted underground corridors, staircases, and long underground cellars descending to a depth of 15 meters.
72 oak vats are used for vinification and 12,900 Bordeaux oak barrels are used for aging.
The estate owns 170 hectares (420 acres) of vineyards. Viña Tondonia which occupies 100 hectares (247 acres) of them along the Ebro river has to be is the most spectacular in Haro and produces the most famous wines.
Other vineyards are Viña Cubillo, Viña Bosconia and Viña Laconia.
The wines produced here are unique even to Rioja. They are the most classic among the classics as everything is produced in a very traditional way.
If you admire the modern architecture, you will be drawn here to see the work of Zaha Hadid, who created an external pavilion for the winery.
Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva 1995 – 97 Parker points
Bodegas Muga was founded by Isaac Muga and Aurora Caño in 1932. Located in the historic Barrio de La Estación (Station Quarter) of Haro, it is home to both the most traditional winemaking methods and the latest cutting-edge techniques.
Visits require an appointment. The winery offers regular visits with a tasting of 2 wines from 15 euros per person, as well as the tour of a vineyard on segways and hot-air balloon experience. Please note that there are age limits for these activities.
To book contact Bodegas Muga at +34 941 306 060 or by emailing them at email@example.com.
At La Rioja Alta, the wines are made for 125 years.
The two flagship gran reserva wines have been named 890 and 904 to commemorate 1890, the year the winery was founded by five local growers, and 1904 when one of the founders Daniel-Alfredo Ardanza y Sanchez merged the group with his own winery Ardanza.
La Rioja Alta still maintains traditional Rioja winemaking practices and continues to be one of the benchmarks for traditionally produced Rioja wine.
It is unusual for a great bodega of Rioja to own vineyards, but La Rioja Alta owns 360 hectares from which they can source top-quality grapes. The aging barrels are made from American oak by their in-house barrel-makers.
Rioja Alta 890 Gran Reserva 2005 – 95 Parker points
It is easy to book visits online. There are guided visits at 10 am in English for 30 euros per adult and 10 per child.
There is a wine bar open from Monday to Friday where you can taste various vintages by the glass.