This one is for all our wine lovers out there! While Spain is known the Gaudi art in Barcelona and the sunny beaches in Ibiza and The Canary Islands, Spanish wineries are often overlooked as a tourist attraction. These wineries, referred to as bodegas, are primarily located in the wine-producing region of La Rioja. Whether you’re a solo traveler, sightseeing with friends, or having a romantic getaway, a wine tasting is for everyone and a non-traditional way of getting to know Spain. Here’s the step-by-step process of planning a bodega tour and a few recommendations of my own.
Research different bodegas
Many websites have created lists of the top bodegas to visit in La Rioja so Google and take your pick. While Logroño is the capital of La Rioja, Haro is the wine capital and full of famous bodegas like Muga and López de Heredia. I highly recommend El Fabulista in Laguardia, Marques de Riscal in Elciego and Bilbainas in Haro. Francos Españolas is worth a visit in Logroño and only a bridge walk across the Ebro River while Ysios in Laguardia is one of the most beautiful bodegas I’ve ever seen. Do a two-for-one and visit two in a day to maximize your time.
Find housing and transportation
If you aren’t just passing through, I highly recommend staying in an Airbnb in Logroño since it’s the biggest city. Whether you rent a car, take a Bla Bla Car or catch a bus, Logroño offers more options and their bus schedules have the best connections to surrounding villages. Luckily they are small and walkable which makes it easier if you do plan more than one visit and don’t have a car. I also recommend calling or going to the bus station the night before to double check the bus schedules. Weekend times can differ from weekdays and you don’t want to miss your visit!
Reserve your visit
Making a reservation is a must for a bodega; you won’t get in otherwise. To schedule a visit, called a cata or visita, you can fill out a form on the bodega’s web page, email the visit coordinator with your chosen date and available times, or call. You can also request visits in a few languages including English and Spanish. Make sure you correspond the visit with the bus schedule when making your reservation too. If you are emailing and currently not in Spain’s time zone, I recommend offering a variety of available times to speed up the process. Outside of bodegas in Haro that can be booked 3 months in advance, most allow you to reserve the week of your visit. For others, I recommend at least two weeks in advance, but the sooner the better.
And that’s it! The day of your visit make sure to have a good meal, pack snacks and head to the bodega. The visits are one to two hours long and include two glasses or more of wine. You can visit bodegas all year, however, the fall is their high season and the prettiest because the vineyards are in full bloom. I’ve been to six bodegas (rain or shine) and each has its own history and presentation style.
Show up ready to learn and drink up that Spanish culture!
Sojourner is a 22 year old traveling chocoholic from Milwaukee, WI. A graduate of Bradley University with a double major in Psychology and Spanish and minor in Women’s and Gender Studies, she currently resides in Logroño, La Rioja, Spain as a Fulbright Scholar. When Sojourner is not teaching, she can be found writing, eating or wine tasting her way through life at sojournies.weebly.com. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @sojowhite to keep up with her journeys to come!