01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

The Society's Community

San Sebastian and Rioja Winery recommendations

Hi,

We are planning a trip to San Sebastian and Rioja and wanted to see what wineries would you recommend to visit?

Thank you

1 Like

Hi, there are loads of options. Can I suggest you have a read of the various threads some great ones to visit

4 Likes

Hi,

Thanks for this. I reviewed the recommendations (thank you), would be great to get some thoughts on the proposed plan and short list of wineries to visit.

We are visiting next weekend, will have Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday. I understand most things will be closed on Sunday, so Saturday is key day. We are staying near La Guardia at Eguren Ugarte near La Guardia for 2 nights.

The proposed plan is to visit Haro and a couple of other wineries. Given the timings, I think its best we spend Saturday morning to early afternoon in Haro also get lunch there.

Our price range is between 10-25 euros. We also like natural minimal intervention wineries (though not exclusive) if there are any that you recommend would be great.

On the short list of wineries:

Haro - which of the two would you visit?

  • Rioja Alta
  • Muga
  • Cune
  • Cruzado

Other

  • Urbina
  • Puelles
  • Baigorri
  • Contino
  • Artadi

Also it seems that most wineries charge for the tour and tasting. What are peoples experiences?

Thanks

Hi
No doubt you’ll read my review of our tours linked above.
We enjoyed our Muga tour and thought it value. Didn’t visit the others you list in Haro, but would do if we had the time. I liked our Roda tour, very individual and would also liked to have visited Tondonia.

Outside of Haro, Artadi was a good tour they were only just opening to visiting and we were lucky they had opened bottles for critics the day before, otherwise I don’t think you’ll get a tasting of the top wines. You won’t find anything there in your price range (mine neither).

It’s a great area to tour, make sometimes for just walking and sightseeing.

1 Like

Ohh decisions decisions!

Rioja Alta is great and their wine tasting at the end was fantastic, worth the fee for the tour alone.

I loved Cruzado as they are a much smaller bodegas so it’s nice to contrast. But if you are very limited for time probably Muga would be the 2nd choice after Rioja Alta.

I would encourage you to at least pop in to Lopez de Heredia to taste the tondonia. It’s just opposite Rioja Alta.

Think Baigorri is overrated but the bodegas is spectacular. Puelles is very different, interesting guy, we stayed on the vineyard last time I was there, worth a visit.

Thanks. I wrote to the wineries to see what they have available as it’s hard to see/book via the website, they don’t seem to have that many English speaking tours. I don’t suspect it’s a problem to pop into the shop of the bigger wineries to try and buy a few bottles if we do not have the time?

Also - what is a good place to have lunch in Haro?

Thanks

I’d walk up to the main square in Haro (steep hill though), Plaza de la Paz. There are several bars/restaurants on the square or slightly off the square to grab some tapas and obviously have another glass of wine.

Some bodegas offer a tour with lunch, I hear the Roda one is rather good for that, but appreciate it’s not on your list.

2 Likes

Depends how many tours you want. Urbina charge for a tour and tasting but you can just book a tasting which is cheaper. You could just go into their on-site shop and buy what you want without a tasting if you already know what you want. Their range is extensive and I would recommend a tasting - and a long lunch in the village afterwards or a taxi back if you want to take full advantage. Last time there we had a morning tasting followed by a longish drive to the coast. Lots of spitting was required!

We went to the station quarter in Haro and at Tondonia we bought two different glasses of wine and sat and drank them. Very pleasant though inebriating way to have a tasting. I am sure forward planning would have helped. At Gomez Cruzado we did the same thing and got the cost of the drinks taken off when we bought wine. We could have done something better I think - just ask the people there. I think there was a flight of small glasses of a wider range we could have tried. And maybe we could just have asked to taste the wines rather than buy glasses of the stuff. I’d enquire. A winery crawl around the station quarter proved too much for us!

2 Likes

It’s a bit tricky. When I go tasting in other regions, I usually visit the winery. Take a small sip (10ml) of the wine (when driving I spit) and try a few wines. Depending on the wines I like then I purchase a few. Sometimes we get a informal tour of the cellar and sometimes not. This way in a day can sample quite a few wineries.

This is true in Croatia, France, Italy and if I recall correctly Portugal.

But in Spain it seems that visiting these wineries and doing a tour you have to pay for, or for the tastings themselves unless I am looking at only the big wineries.

Not all wineries charge for tours or tastings, but the bigger ones especially those in Haro are very geared up to tourism.

Thanks. Any smaller wineries worth exploring?

It’s not that I am cheap, I have been to a few large wineries (i.e. Antorini) and very much prefer smaller operation.

1 Like

Most Bodegas in Rioja charge, having been several times you tend to find most charge for the glass.

Some tours charge but make up for it in either a gift (bottle of Tondonia) or the quality of the wine tasting.

If you want to try some smaller bodegas then I highly recommend Ostatu and Luis Canas. You’ll have to pay to taste but the quality at both is amazing.

We weren’t charged at Bodegas Hermanos Peciña,
But everywhere else did.

I’d give a +5 to CVNE. We went there a year ago and accidentally booked the Spanish language tour. They very kindly got an English speaking worker to come and give us the show round…he was so knowledgable and the winery is beautiful. It’s one of the older ones and the crypt is breathtakingly old and full of ancient bottles. It really came across how every employee was so dedicated to the winery and knew winemaking inside out. We went for the plush tour and there was only two of us on it…didn’t stop him opening 3 bottles including gran riservas for the the 2 of us and himself so we had a right party :smiley: The local cheese and iberico ham was also fab, which was provided.

The town of Haro has so many wineries in you can just rock up and do a tasting in their bar such as at Tordonia and Rioja Alta , Muga…all within about 20 minutes of each other. Also don’t forget to pop in for a cool drink in one of the oldest hotels surely in northern spain! The central hall is spectacular, it’s an old converted monastry I think.

Edit: If you’re looking for smaller ones I’d avoid Muga…every American tourist and their cousin was there, but the staff were very knowledgable and their wines were excellent.

We got a bus from Bilbao which went straight there from the main bus station then you’re right in the centre of Haro. Careful when you go though, we went in June and it reached 42 degrees on the day we went…sheesh!

5 Likes

Thanks. I went and had a great trip. Based ourselves at the Euguren Ugarte wine hotel near La Guardia which was just lovely.

Visited Urbina, Rioja Alt, Heredia, Roda, Hermandos Pecina and Valenciso (loved their White Rioja). Did the tour at Pecina for the others we bought the wines and tasted a bit here and there.

Ate at Hector Orbie (upscale), Villa Lucia (country style), Restaurante Ariño (rustic country style) and Euguren Ugarte (fantastic 4 course tasting menu) great value.

I bought a few bottles back would be good guidnace which ones to keep and drink now and which ones to put away as no space at home need to send to storage.

2015 Roda I
2012 La Rioja Vina Ardanza Reserva Rioja
2012 Vino Arana Reserva
2014 Martim Cendoya
2006 Urbina Grand Reserva
2004 Urbina Especial

Thanks

1 Like

The Urbina Gran Reservas seem to last for ages. We recently had a 1994. Was a bit worried but it was lovely. Nice now no doubt but definitely a keeper I’d say.

2 Likes

Depends what you are looking for. I’m sure all will be great to drink now and they should also age well. If you tried them all on holiday then you could cellar all of them to see how they develop over the next 5+ years.

Like @JayKay said the Urbina can last a long time, I had a 1982 last year and it was still good.

I’d expect the two from La Rioja Alta and Roda to last a long time as well. I don’t know the other one unfortunately.

If you want guidance on how much they are likely to go on for I’d suggest emailing the bodegas if they don’t have the info on their website. Heredia and La Rioja Alta have benne really helpful when I’ve emailed them previously.

4 Likes