Planning Your Wine Tour in Spain
Spain has nine official “Wine Routes” designed to help tourist maximize their opportunities to learn about the wines, food, culture and history of each region. A free guide to the wine routes is only one of many you can download at the government’s site, Spanish Tourism. Wander in the footsteps of Don Quixote in La Mancha. See cutting edge 21st century architecture in Rioja. Travel back in time to ancient castles, palaces and rustic villages. From mountain hideaways to seaside resorts to bustling modern cities, taking in all that Spain has to offer will make you want to return over and over again.
Driving the Wine Roads of Spain
Travelers to Rioja often start or end their visit in the city of Bilbao, just north of Rioja, for a trip to the art wonders of the Guggenheim Museum. But wine lovers might actually prefer the spectacular new Museum of Wine Culture in the Riojan town of Briones. Rioja itself offers many modern and medieval architectural gems as well as the opportunity to taste the wines that put Spain on the map. Appointments for tours are required but can usually be made with only a few days notice. Rioja offers many interesting small medieval villages, monasteries, excellent regional cuisine and tourist amenities.
Ribera del Duero Wine
Madrid is the closest major city to the Ribera del Duero wine region. Many superior wineries are available to visit here but once again, appointments are typically necessary. A short stretch of land along the Duoro River known as the Golden Mile is where prestigious wineries such as Vega Sicilia, Pingus, Abadia Retuerta and Mauro are located. Within the four provinces this wine region covers are many charming villages, fortresses and castles. Hearty country fare is typical of the local food.
The Sherry houses of Jerez are only a little over a one hour drive from the city of Seville and have long been popular with tourists. Finding ample opportunities to tour and taste are easy. Some wineries off the beaten path will require an appointment. The three small towns that make up the so-called “Sherry Triangle” make wines that range from simple to highly complex, dry to sweet and offer a fascinating chance to see how this ancient wine is made.
Organized Spanish Wine Tours
Wandering the wine roads of Spain may sound romantic and carefree, but when it comes to visiting wineries an organized tour is the most relaxing, safest way to ensure a good time for all. In every region, qualified bilingual wine tour guides will add to your experience, ensure you get into the wineries you really want to visit and prevent any mishaps should you sip a bit too much vino. Tours that include hiking, biking, luxury car, van and bus services are all available. For more information and links to travel services visit Spanish Tourism or try these sources:
Spain is roughly twice the size of the state of Oregon and most travelers will find a combination of air travel, public transportation and rental car offers the best way to see the country. There is an extensive network of rail and bus service and more than 40 airports throughout Spain, but in rural areas most visitors will want a car. Drinking and driving laws in Spain are some of the most strict in Europe and driving in large cities like Madrid or Barcelona can be challenging. Wherever your destination in Spain you can be assured that tourists are welcome and a great vacation awaits.