Have you ever been to Rioja Alta? Rioja wine is perhaps Spain’s greatest, and easily its best known export throughout the wine-loving world. Top Rioja brands such as Faustino Rioja, El Coto Rioja and Marqués de Caceres, to name just three, regularly appear in wine stores throughout Europe, America and beyond. Surely you know a few of these labels, but how much do you know about the Rioja region itself? If you’ve ever thought about travelling to Rioja to visit wineries, read on for an exclusive guide of the best things to do and see.
Three regions: Rioja Alta, Alavesa and Baja
Rioja is located in Spain’s Upper Ebro region, and is itself split into three subregions. Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja each have their own distinctive characteristics and unique charms. As a wine tourist, the choice of where to go is entirely up to you. For us, Rioja Alta is unmissable, but its neighbouring regions are also very charming and worth a visit.
- Rioja Alta is located west of the city of Logroño and is home to two of Rioja’s top bodegas: CVNE and Muga.
- Rioja Alavesa is also west of Logroño, and is known for its vineyards high in the Cantabrian Mountains. At up to 800 metres high, these vineyards are the region’s highest point. Wines here tend to be Rioja’s lightest.
- Rioja Baja is east of Logroño, and specialises in the Garnacha Tinta – or red Grenache – grape.
Visiting Rioja Alta
The Rioja Alta region welcomes tourists all year round, with accommodation within the region and the nearby city of Logroño. As with any wine region, the life cycle of the vineyard is seasonal. Visit during winter and you will expect to see mainly bare vineyards. If you want to see more life, consider visiting during the summer and close to harvest time.
3 things to do and see in Rioja Alta
1. Visit wineries
This one’s a no-brainer. This is right in the heart of perhaps Spain’s greatest wine region, why on earth would you not take advantage and visit some of the best wineries and vineyards? There are plenty of great wineries to visit in Haro and other parts of the Rioja Alta zone. Some of our favourites include Muga, La Rioja Alta, CVNE, Ibaiondo and Florentino de Lecanda. Each winery is unique and will have its own distinctive story and visitor experience. It is always wise to book visits in advance in order to avoid disappointment.
2. Eat like a local
Haro is the heart of the Rioja Alta region, and is a gastronomic delight. There are a number of seriously amazing restaurants that you simply can’t miss if you’re in the area and are passionate about food and wine. We recommend trying a top restaurant like Los Caballeros, Casa Toni or La Vieja Bodega. You won’t be disappointed! Alternatively, take a stroll down one of the Rioja Alta gastronomic routes and delight at what you find!
3. See the sights
Rioja Alta – and Rioja generally – is known best for its wine. However, the region is full of historical heritage just waiting to be explored. Visit Haro as a tourist and delight at all manner of churches, palaces, museums and public spaces! Vamos!
Have you ever been to Rioja Alta or the Rioja region? Can you recommend any must-visit wineries, can’t-miss restaurants or tourist attractions? Tell us about your experience!