Rioja is a wine region of rolling hills, verdant vineyards, majestic mountains and sparkling rivers. The pitoresque landscape offers so much more than a pretty view-the area is rich with possibilities for the perfect holiday.
Start your escape by diving deep into the wine culture and history of Rioja, as varied as it is long. The region is proud to produce some of the greatest red wines in the world as well as a diverse array of whites and roses, with a style for every occasion and taste. The best way to immerse yourself in the wines is to take a road trip, hopping from historic fortress towns such as Laguardia to the warm stone buildings of Samaniego, looking out for the vineyards and wineries which decorate the hillsides. Whether you end up in a small family-run bodega, or a state-of-the-art winery like Ysios you will experience the rest of Riojan hospitality. While in Laguardia, be sure to visit Villa Lucia’s thematic center of wine where you can learn about the culture of wine and take part in tasting courses.
On your travels, you will see there is not such thing as a typical Rioja wine. An abundance of different styles of red wine can be produced from the main grape varieties of Tempranillo and Garnacha, along with local varieties like Graciano and Mazuelo, which are used in small quantities to add flavor and nuance.
Get to know the subregions of Rioja each od which brings a different take on the Tempranillo grape. Rioja Alavesa is the highest region, known for wines with minerally and refreshing acidity. Rioja Baja’s southern location lends its wines warmth and fullness. Some of the most traditional wineries come from Rioja Alta, which is centered around the town of Haro in the heart of the region. White wines are usually made from Viura and Malvasia and again span a vast range of styles, from the traditional rich, oak-aged wines to zesty modern interpretations.
After a long day of tasting wine, a good meal is essential. Locals in the regions capital, Logroño, head for Calle Laurel, going from bar to bar in search for the best jamón iberico, juicy gambas and other pinchos.
Early summer is the perfect time for seeing Rioja at its luxuriant best. Not only are the vineyards bursting with color ad the hillsides resplendent with wild flowers, but festivals and events are also in full swing.
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