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By Neharika Padala | October 2 2015
From north to south, east to west, the sun-kissed wine routes of Spain cover the length and breadth of the Iberian countryside. Here, Elite Traveler brings you five of the most spectacular routes – to access the best vineyards and, of course, the finest wines
The Rioja Alta Wine Route lies in one of Spain’s finest wine-producing havens, where much on the country’s wine culture was developed and where some of the most prestigious wines now originate. beyond the barrels, rioja alta also boasts a rich artistic heritage set down on the banks of the ebre river amidst the Toloño, Cantabria, and Demanda mountains, where the unrivaled hospitality of la Rioja’s towns and their people combine to create the ideal Iberian escape. Rioja Alta Wine route: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.rutasdelvinorioja.com/en/
Located in the northwest of La Rioja, a short way from Logroño, Rioja Alta can be accessed by highway—the n–232 and the a–68—as well as by train from the Haro station and plane via the Logroño airport.
Top Sleeps along the Rioja Alta Wine route, there is a bounty of accomodations available, from hotels and apartments to charming cottages and cozy inns, all of which offer the perfect opportunity to gather around a table—such as those at Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada—and enjoy good conversation and a glass of Rioja wine with old and new friends alike. Plaza del Santo, 3, 26250 Santo Domingo de la Calzada; www.parador.es
Top Eats The magnificent restaurants, taverns, and steakhouses of La Rioja Alta invite travelers to sample Rioja’s freshly harvested vegetables, traditional stews, and world-famous sarmiento baked chops. For a truly authentic experience, make sure to try Rioja-style cod and potatoes, “piquillo” peppers stuffed with meat, and the region’s renowned “pochas riojanas” (haricot beans).
Activities & Excursions – Rioja Alta offers a variety guided pathways that traverse the whole of the territory. a stroll along these tranquil thoroughfares is the perfect way to get to know the region’s fantastic natural beauty, from the rolling vine fields to the sierra del Toloño mountains.
Festivals – each year, Rioja Alta’s quaint towns alight with festivals, including hundreds of patron saints’ celebrations and “romerías”, for instance the Romería of the Hermitage of Davalillo, held in San Asensio on the first Sunday after Resurrection Sunday. Also held in San Asensio in late July, the Battle of Claret encourages locals and visitors alike to engage in an good-natured mock-dispute during which 30,000 liters of wine are splashed about town, soaking anyone who happens to be passing by.
Tucked between the river ebro and the imposing Cantabria mountain range, Rioja aLaVesa is a stunning 115-square-mile region situated in basque country, where vineyards have been tended since the romans once ruled. The rolling region is home to nearly 400 wineries, which, along with its medieval towns, stately mansions, and peaceful churches, have helped to make the Rioja Alavesa Wine Route an essential destination for travelers looking to experience the many aromas, flavors, landscapes, and sensations of Spain. And although Rioja Alavesa boasts countless wine festivals, events, cultural attractions, vinotherapy options, nature activities, and wine-related shopping opportunities, the true finishing touch to any visit is a night spent among the barrels and amidst vineyards at one of the area’s stunning avant-garde hotels and charming country houses.
Rioja Alavesa Wine route: email@example.com; www.rutadelvinoderiojaalavesa.com/en/
Rioja Alavesa is the southernmost region of the basque country, located within an hour of the Bilbao international airport.
Top Eats – This gastronomically privileged area calls many of Spain’s best traditional dishes its own, such as potatoes with chorizo, hearty chops grilled over vine cuttings, and tender pork cheek in red wine and haricot beans. The local chefs combine tradition and modernity, offering everything from authentic tapas delicacies to gourmet menus, all paired with a selection of the best Rioja Alavesa wines.
Top Wineries – One of the region’s essential experiences is a visit to the Rioja Alvesa’s intimate wine cellars, where you can simultaneously learn the secrets of winemaking from their owners and take a trip back in time. Rioja Alavesa is also home to a variety of art and avant-garde architecture, such as the Santiago Calatrava, Crystal Cubes (the work of Inaki Aspiazu), and a majestic wine barrel from the mind of the French architect, Meziers.
Activities & Excursions – of all the routes criss-crossing Rioja Alavesa, the Enobus is perhaps the most diverse, weaving through ancient towns, wineries, olive oil mills, wine museums—such as the villa Lucía Wine Culture Theme Centre – and much more.
Festivals – Every September Rioja Alavesa celebrates The Harvest Fiesta, while the Wine and Music Festival, held in July, and the February “uztaberri” Festival, in February, offer plenty of summer and winter fun as well.
Running through the heart of castile along the length and breadth of the left bank of the river duero, the Rueda Wine Route is home to some of the finest wine-growing conditions on earth, with its gorgeous weather and rolling geography lending themselves perfectly to the verdejo grape, which imparts a singular and inimitable personality to each of Rueda’s distinguished wines. Thanks to this optimal setting, Rueda prides itself on a long history of viticulture dating back to the 11th century, offering visitors a once-in-a-lifetime look at the region’s time-honored grapevine care and wine production techniques, which continue to inform the friendly local culture to this day.
Rueda Wine route: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.rutadelvinoderueda.com/en/
The Rueda Wine route is easily accessible by plane, nationally via Valladolid airport, located 20 minutes away, and internationally via Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas airport in Madrid, just over an hour away. It is also easily reached by both railway and road.
Top Sleeps – The historic crossroads of Tordesillas is one of the Rueda Wine route’s can’t-miss stops and is home to the Parador Nacional de Tordesillas, a beautiful manor ensconced by pine trees and a lush garden. its architecture and decor recall classic Castillian glamour, further enhanced by wellness facilities like a Turkish bath, jacuzzi, heated pool, sauna, and gym. ctra. de salamanca, 5, 47100, Tordesillas, Valladolid; www.parador.es
Top Eats – in the region’s many tavernas and restaurants, the local “grandmothers’ recipes”, passed down over the course of multiple generations, have been given a modern touch, bringing out the best from beautiful raw ingredients such as suckling lamb, lentils from La Armuña, Fuentesaúco chick peas, and local wild mushrooms.
Activities & Excursions – The Rueda Wine route is defined by 14 spectacular wineries characterized by ancient underground galleries that have remained intact since the middle ages. When not nosing, tasting, and learning in these stunning time-capsules, Rueda’s homespun hospitality welcomes each visitor as if they were one of its own. Relax with a wine therapy in a spa or sweeten your stay with a traditional pastry, either way you are sure to get swept up in historic treasures, such as Castle of la Mota in Medina Del Campo, and the warmth of the local residents.
Festivals – Each of the Rueda Wine route’s stunning locales offer a host of must-see celebrations including the Wine Harvest Festivities of Rueda, La Seca, and Serrada; the Medieval Market of Tordesillas; and Easter in Medina Del Campo.
Possessing a unique blend of terroir, microclimate, and native grapes, the Ribera del Duero Wine Route is best known for its magnificent and complex red wines, which provide the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon spent basking on the banks of the nearby river Duero or amidst the vineyards, rolling hills, and expansive plains of this singularly stunning region. Encompassing the provinces of Burgos, Segovia, Soria, and Valladolid in Castile-Leon, this wine-rich retreat boasts nearly 52,000 acres of planted vineyards producing almost 50 million liters of wine each year, typified by the Tempranillo, which, as xenophile will no doubt know, is widely considered one of the noble grapes of Spain. Ribera Del Duero Wine route: email@example.com; www.rutadelvinoriberadelduero.es/ingles/inicio.html
The Ribera del Duero’s Wine Route is situated approximately two hour’s drive time and one hour’s high speed train ride from Madrid.
Activities & Excursions – If you’re going to experience one thing in Ribera del Duero, make sure it’s the Castles Route, named for the countryside surrounding Ribera del Duero Wine route, which is littered with ancient fortifications such as the Haza Walls, Tower of Guzmán, Zúñiga’s palace, the Castle of Langa del Duero, and Peñafiel’s Castle, the seat of the provincial Wine Museum and one of the showcase attractions of Spain’s Wine routes.
For a mix of both wine and history, book a tour through the local underground cellars, which enchant visitors with their maze of galleries, beautiful arches, and rock-hewn vaults. Located underground at depths of nearly 40 feet, the cellars maintain a constant annual temperature of about 57 degrees, ideal for ageing in the region’s trademark oak barrels.
The ultimate experience, however, is a horsedrawn carriage ride among the vines that concludes with a tour of the local wineries and a tasting of local specialties like torreznos, morcilla, and chorizo.
Located less than 30 minutes south of Barcelona and 15 minutes from the magnificent beaches of Sitges, the Penedès Wine Route puts its namesake region’s unique coastal landscape on full display, with the endless vineyards, charming rural accommodations, and esteemed wine cellars lending this Mediterranean haven international wine-making acclaim.
Penedès Wine route: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.enoturismepenedes.cat/en
Located just 30 minutes from Barcelona, a sea of vineyards awaits in Penedès.
Top Eats – While the world-class wines of Penedès are sure to be the centerpiece of any dining table, the traditional local cuisine is not be overlooked. Featuring recipes like Muscovy duck and Penedesenca chicken, the region’s diverse menus highlight fresh local poultry, while also saving room for delicious seasonal recipes, such as xató—a salad of curly endive, cod, anchovies, and olives with a special sauce.
Activities & Excursions – The best way to experience Penedès is with all five senses, tasting and smelling your way through the local wine cellars or taking in the majestic countryside and fresh marine air with a stroll or bike ride on the paths cut right through the vineyards themselves.
Festivals – Celebration is a key component of Penedès culture, and Vilafranca del Penedès, a great fair of wines and champagnes produced in the Penedès region, as well as Most Festival, an annual event held in November showcasing the best international audiovisual work linked to viniculture, wine, and cava, top the roster of yearly coronations.
BEST OF THE REST:
Rías Baixas Wine Route A thoroughly unique member of Spain’s Wine route roster, the Rías Baixas Wine Route—tinted soothing shades of blue and green by the nearby atlantic ocean—embraces the unique personalities of Salnés, o Rosal, Condado do Tea, and Ribeira do Ulla, becoming an essential part of any Spanish itinerary in the process. From the boundaries of el salnés, the birthplace of Albariño wine, to El Condado do Tea and its castle-adorned mountains, Rías Baixas is paradise of gardens, rural estates, and seaside escapes that welcomes wine pilgrims with a warm smile and one-of-a-kind culture. Rías Baixas Wine route: email@example.com; www.rutadelvinoriasbaixas.com
Montilla-Moriles Wine Route Imagine a flamingo flying low over vineyards and olive groves; flames toasting the inside of a wine barrel; a veil of flour yeast pulling back to reveal the world-class wine beneath. The Montilla-Moriles Wine Route offers all of this and much more across its eight wine-rich municipalities in the south of Córdoba, providing a bevy of cultural, historical, artistic, and culinary options for active travelers from around the globe. And although wine itself remains paramount, the Montilla-Moriles Wine route is about much more than just reds and whites; it’s about the noble people, majestic landscape, and welcoming culture that have combined to make the region one of the most important and vibrant in all of Spain. Montilla-Moriles Wine route: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Somontano Wine Route Tucked in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Somontano is an enchanting place, where wine is not just a part of art and commerce, but a way of life. From its medieval towns to its snow-capped peaks, the Somontano Wine Route traverses the breadth of this region, where a vibrant culture with a verve for nature, gastronomy, and good wine make it one of most memorable stops in the whole of Spain.
email@example.com ; www.rutadelvinosomontano.com
Sherry and Jerez Brandy Route The origin of one of the world’s most unique wine-producing traditions and the perfect destination for sense-awakening experiences, the Jerez region, the cradle of some of Spain’s most celebrated and world-renowned wines and brandies, transcends it primary export with an indelible cultural legacy, extraordinary natural beauty, and an idyllic seaside climate. and although the mystery-tinged dim of its bodegas and the narrow streets of its white-washed villages are sure to relax mind and body alike, strive to keep your palate sharp, for the Sherry and Jerez Brandy Route—one of Spain’s most popular wine-tourism itinerary—is the only place on earth where Jerez-Xérès-sherry, Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and Jerez brandy can be produced. Sherry and Jerez brandy route: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.rutadeljerezybrandy.com