DINE YOUR WAY THROUGH SPAIN PROGRAMS
La Rioja – The Land of Wine
The wines of Rioja are among the finest in Spain. Perhaps the world. But don’t let the reputation for its wines detract from the fact that it’s also the home of a superb cuisine. As they say, gourmands may come for the wine, but they stay for the food.
Although Basque chefs and Catalan alchemist–cooks are well recognized, now international gourmands have rediscovered La Rioja’s chefs. Rioja‘s cuisine, both classic and nouveau, is coming out from under the radar. Local innovative chefs, have created what might be called the great new Spanish cuisine, traditional Riojan classic with a French nouveau twist. Your clients will discover that many unpretentious casas de comidas (home cooked eating houses) also offer their own specialties.
Vegetables such as artichokes, eggplants, mushrooms and peppers figure prominently in this new cuisine. Especially the menestras (stews). So do goat and lamb cooked over grapevines. As do wild fish and game such as trout and venison. These new chefs turn typical country dishes like patatas a la Riojana (a simple stew of potatoes, chorizo and smoked paprika) and caparrones con sus sacramentos (pygmy kidney beans stewed with ham bone, garlic, onions and peppers) into dishes that will leave the most persnickety gourmand asking for more.
Of course, we can’t talk about Rioja without talking about its magnificent wine. This region is not only home of the world’s most emblematic bodegas (wineries), but some of the world’s most emblematic wines. Reds made of Tempranillo, Gracianoand Mazuelo and Granacha grapes. And whites made from the famed Viura, Malvasia and Macebo grapes delight the connoisseurs and aficionados.
Our program takes you to lovely historic towns. You’ll stay in superb hotels like the unique Marques de Riscal or quaint smaller boutique inns like the Hospederia Dos Parajes. You’ll enjoy day excursions to great bodegas (wineries), where you’ll learn the process of wine making passed down by generations. You’ll also visit historic Monasteries where monks originally produced the earlier wines, and where Rioja’s wines were first mentioned by poet Gonzalo de Berceoin 1650.
Best of all you’ll discover a proud culture that revolves around their wine.
VIEW SAMPLE ITINERARY
All itineraries can be modified to fit your travel time, budget and specific interests.
Day 01 – Santiago de Compostela
Today your transfer will greet you and drive to your elegant accommodations. This evening enjoy a welcome dinner in one of Santiago’s most established restaurants such as: Casa Marcelo where you’ll start becoming acquainted with the excellent gastronomy and wines of Galicia.
Day 02 – Santiago de Compostela
This morning, your guide will greet you and take you on a walking tour of this magnificent historic city. You’ll start your visit by the Plaza do Obradoiro, from where you’ll admire the majestic baroque towers on each side of the Cathedral dating back to the 11th century.Santiago’s Cathedral pays homage to St. James and is visited by thousands of Pilgrims each year. You’ll enter through the 9th century Portico main entrance, built by King Alfonso II. After your tour of the Cathedral walk along the roof path and take in the magnificent views of the city.
Then continue to the historic Hostal dos Reis Catolicos now a Parador and Town Hall. The historic quarter is full of narrow winding streets, lined with historic buildings and typical “tapas” bars and old restaurants that come to life in the evening. After your visit partake a delicious “comida“ lunch in one of Santiago’s best restaurants.
Day 03 – Padron / Cambados – Rias Baixas / Pontevedra
This morning you travel to the town of Padrón, kown for its small green peppers, Pimientos. They are usually served grilled or fried with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. They taste mild, but they also can be very spicy. The Valley of Herbón, produces over 15,000 kilos of Padrón.
This morning you travel to Cambados, along the coastal Rias Baixas, while you take in the beautiful scenery. Today you’ll visit one of the most established Bodegas (winery) in the Valley of O Salnes. As well as tour some of the vineyards that produce the highest quality of Galician Albariño wines.
Cambadosis known for its Albariño white wines. This area of Galicia provides perfect climate for the type of grape and aroma to produces an ideal Albariño wine. This excellent wine is also known as ‘the sea wine’ due to the location of the vineyards near the ocean, and for being the perfect complement to Galicia’s famed seafood. Cambados, is also known for its excellent seafood, some of it which comes from La Ria de Arousa. After an excellent comida (lunch) continue to Pontevedra.
The beautiful medieval city of Pontevedra, was built between the green Valleys surrounding it and the Tomeza and Lerez Rivers. As you walk through its old winding streets, you’ll admire their stone medieval homes and buildings, several Plazas and a Church featuring a main area shaped liked a typical Camino shell. After your visit, relax and enjoy the local gastronomy during dinner.
Day 04 – Ribadavia / Miño River
This morning you travel to the historic town of Ribadavia, which lies on the banks of the Miño River. This area is well known for its production of excellent Ribeira wines introduced by monks during the 12th century. The town’s historic buildings, Plaza Mayor and Town Hall feature an excellent example of 15th century architecture. Rivadavia was declared a historical site in 1947. Rivadavia is surrounded by part of its former town walls. There are buildings and sites of importance, where the former Jewish Quarter and Synagogue once stood.
You’ll also visit the remains of the Castillo of Sarmientos castle, where the Counts of Rivadavia once lived. Then partake of the local cuisine, before visiting other wine producing areas, full of rich vineyards covering slopping hills that follow the river.
Day 05 – Santiago de Compostela – San Sebastian
This morning your transfer will drive you to the airport for your flight to San Sebastian, the next stop in your gastronomy adventure. This itinerary has been designed to be combined with the Basque Country.
Rioja's great wine...
There’s more to Rioja than great wine…
“I used to consider myself somewhat of a wine aficionado.
Then I went to La Rioja.”— By Vivianne Schael
The waiter would pour me a taste of wine. I swished it around, sniff its bouquet, hold the glass up to the light to check the color, then share an inane comment about vintage and let the waiter fill the rest of the glass.
Then one day in a small family-owned Bodega in La Rioja, my relationship with wine changed forever. Before the Wine Master let me taste his wine, he told me about how it was grown, pruned, picked and culled. How only one grape in a thousand made it to the bottle. How it was aged for years in special oak barrels. Then he told me of his love for the Tempranillo Grape.
But before he’d let me taste his wine, he told me how to taste it. Not with my mouth or tongue. But with my nose and heart. Suddenly my mouth exploded with flavors and aromas. Licorice, peaches, apples and lilacs after it rains. That was the moment I fell in love with wine.
La Rioja is no more than seventy miles long and thirty miles wide. Yet every inch of it is special. Its history. Its architecture. Its art. But the thing that makes it the most special is its wine. Everything revolves around wine. When a Riojano goes out to dine, first they order the wine. Then they order the food that best accompanies it.
It is with all that in mind that I invite you to experience this magical destination with us.