Spain Wine Tours
Spain Wine Tour #1
"Vino, sol y aire, y
serás rico como nadie"
(With wine, sun and fresh air – you’ll be richer than anyone)
Throw in some great Paradors, two wonderful Bodega Hotels, Spain wine
tasting at it’s finest, and what better
way is there to experience, and enjoy one of the most truly ‘Spanish’ aspects
of Spain – it’s renowned wineries and their exciting wines?!
The "Wine and Paradors" Spain wine tour #1 will take you to two of Spain’s premier
wine regions; the La Rioja area, and the
Ribera Del Duero area. You
will visit wineries, and wine museums, and have multiple wine tastings in both of those D.O.’s (Denominacion de Origen) as well
as in the up-and-coming Toro,
and Rueda D.O.’s.
In your deluxe wine tour through these different and distinct wine areas,
your Spain wine travel will take you to several outstanding wineries for wine tasting, and tours of their wine-making
facilities. You’ll visit two famous wine museums, as well as the ‘in’ spots for
sampling wine and tapas in Madrid.
The Paradors at which you will stay are located in the heart of these
wine regions and will provide the perfect base for exploration. Then –
you’ll also actually stay at two operating Bodegas and really get an "up close
and personal" view of the full and intricate process of wine-making from
vine to bottle.
The "Wine and Paradors" tours will
take you into the world of Spanish wine, and what a fascinating trip it will
First part of the trip will take
you to the wine regions of Rueda, and Toro:
The Rueda D.O.
This is perhaps Spain’s most famous white wine producer (sharing the honor
with Galicia’s Albariño producers, and of course the sherry region of Andalucia). The famous Riojan house of Marques de Riscal
moved their white wine production to Rueda in the early 70’s and introduced
new processes to the area that changed and revolutionized the white wine of
* Wine tip: The
Denominación de Origen (D.O.) is a quality designation
controlled by regulating agencies. There are 60+ (changes
occasionally) of these designated and delineated areas in Spain – each
with their ‘consejo regulador’ that keeps a strict hold on the
practices of the wineries in the area. This assures a certain minimum
level of quality standards.
The whites of Rueda are now wines of very high quality. The Verdejo grape has
been coaxed into producing wines with great fragrance – light, dry, slightly
acidic, and fruity. The Cabernet Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc
grape are also authorized varieties for the Rueda Denominacion. You will see
"Rueda" on the label – meaning a minimum of 50% Verdejo grapes – and you’ll
also see "Rueda Superior" – meaning a minimum of 85% Verdejo.
The little town of Rueda is just off the main road coming up from Madrid
(A-6), and only a few kilometers south of Tordesillas where you will be
staying. You could stop by one of the local bars on the main
street – like the Leones or the Arenal – have a
leisurely ‘copa’ of Rueda Superior, and then be on your way to check-in at
* Wine tip:
If you encounter a bottle of Martinsancho from the
legendary winery of Angel Rodriguez – buy it! This is a ‘hand-made’
wine of the finest quality produced by one man from vines he has tended
his whole life – and whose father and grandfather also tended in their
time. This wine is made in a style and using processes from another
The Toro D.O.
A short drive of 24 miles from the Parador Tordesillas will bring you to
the famous wine town of Toro in the heart of the Toro D.O.. It’s
a nice town for a visit: It has a beautiful old church, and a
arcaded main plaza where you’ll find numerous bars for sampling the wines of
* Trip tip:
While in Toro, wander over to the Hotel Juan II for lunch. Be
sure and take in the remarkable views out over the plain of the Duero
river from the hotel’s terrace . . . this is the Spain for true
The Toro region has traditionally been known for producing big,
heavy-bodied red wines of high alcohol content. This D.O. has now
stepped into the ‘new’ wine age and is producing a finer style that appeals
to the refined tastes of today’s wine connoisseurs. The grape is the Tinto
de Toro (a local variety of Tempranillo). The only other grape permitted by
the DO is the Garnacha.
Though the modern Toro wines have been toned-down a bit as mentioned
above – some of the Reservas and Gran Reservas can be real ‘blockbusters’ –
as bold as wine gets and with a natural alcohol content of 14% and higher!
Here we will arrange for you a visit to one of the most famous of the
Toro wineries (below). There will be free wine tasting, and you’ll be able to wander
around the grounds at yoru leisure.
The Parador Tordesillas will be your base for the first two days
of the wine tour.
It is a former ancestral home near the historical town of Tordesillas, an important crossroads since Roman times. The
countryside here is green and nature offers a unique landscape.
A beautiful pine grove, with a spacious, well cared-for garden, surrounds
the Parador. There is an ambience of tranquility and calm amid the
peacefulness of the natural spaces that surround. The Castilian style
dominates in both the external lines, and in the interior where many of the rooms
contain valuable antiques.
The Parador has recently undergone a multi-million
Euro refurbishment, and now presents the visitor with sparkling facilities
The small, pretty town of Tordesillas holds a very large place in
history. Here, in 1494, Spain and Portugal signed the Treaty of
Tordesillas which divided the New World between them!
From this base, you can drive the short distance down to Rueda, or
over to Toro.
* Trip tip:
Stop off in Medina Del Campo on the drive up from Madrid (about 24
kilometers before you get to Tordesillas – just outside of town near the
railway tracks) and see the wonderful castle, "La Mota."
Transitioning to the 2nd stage of your trip in the La Rioja area, you’ll
first go a bit north to stop off for a
night at one of Spain’s finest hotels – the Parador of Leon.
The Parador Leon (official name is Parador Hostal San Marcos) is one of the most unique hotels in
the world. It has a matchless Plateresque facade and an ornate Baroque interior.
Staying here is a dream come true for those who really appreciate
traditional architectural design at its finest. Parador Leon is the epitome of style.
The true original name of this remarkable building was, La Casa Primada de
la Orden de Santiago. Re-construction and expansion was begun in 1515.
At that time, there was already a pilgrim’s hostal on this site that had
been founded by a pious local princess, Infanta Doña Sancha. It has
remained a hostelery
for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, and also became the seat of a military order of priests,
the Order of Saint James. During the times of the Crusades it also
served as a monastery: It has also been a civilian prison, a church,
an army barracks and a horse stables and stud farm. Now – it is one of
the very finest Paradors in the Parador chain.
The Leon Parador surrounds a magnificent cloister that itself is filled with
manicured gardens and topped by a colonnaded balcony. It’s
architectural style is primarily Plateresque on the outside – a style that
was a transition from Gothic to Renaissance – and Baroque on the inside.
The city of Leon began as a base for Roman soldiers who were guarding the
old gold mines west of the city. It was the garrison for the seventh
legion and got it’s name for the Latin word for legion – legio. It was later the capital of Asturias
Y Leon, and was one of the most important stops on the Camino de Santiago.
It remains today a place that has a subtle, yet strong attraction
for the traveler. Leon has much to see . . .
Interesting excursions from Parador Leon into the city:
– Don’t miss the spectacular Gothic Cathedral –
and try to see it at night as well – when it is fully lit up.
– The Casa Botines, designed by the genius
architect, Antonio Gaudi.
– The Real Basilica de San Isidro, an absolute
gem of the Romanesque style.
– The 17th century Plaza Mayor, and
the Plaza Santa Maria.
The Parador Leon itself is one of the highlights of the city – you’ll
spend many pleasant hours just wandering and discovering its many
fascinating areas – including its own museum.
Then on to the La Rioja for your Rioja wine tour. . .
The Rioja D.O.Ca – though there are dozens of Spain
wine regions, this is the big daddy of them all. The Rioja D.O. gets an
extra couple of initials – one of only two wine regions in all of Spain to
get the coveted Ca. (Calificada) classification denoting an extra measure of
quality control – and thus more consistently superior wines overall.
When most folks talk about, "Spain wine country," they
usually mean the Rioja wine region.
There are so many wineries in this wine region – one could spend
many months trying, and still not visit them all! The premier wine houses are
here; Marqués de Riscal, Lopez de Heredia, Marqués de Murrieta and others.
The beginning of fine Spanish wine started here around 1860 (of course there
were many centuries of ‘ordinary’ wine-making before that) as a direct result of the phylloxera plague that killed every vine in France. The great French
vintners came hastily down to this area and introduced their ‘modern’ (then)
techniques into a land already perfect for growing grapes – and the rest is
The Rioja D.O. is divided into 3 parts; Rioja Baja, Rioja
Alta, and Rioja Alavesa. All produce the Bordeaux-style reds that
have made the area internationally famous, yet innumerable different tastes
are coaxed from the mixture of the grape varieties prevalent here:
These are; Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano and Cabernet.
* Wine Tip:
Try to sample some of the "new-wave" designer wines of the area from the
likes of; Bodegas Roda, Senorio de San Vicente, or Artadi-Cosecheros
Alaveses – and be prepared for a flavor-bomb that will get you to
wondering about what Rioja wines can really be!
In this La Rioja part of your trip – we’ll arrange your visit to places
where you’ll see sights,
and experience wine-related things that are completely fascinating, even
other-worldly . . . so get
While in the Rioja, you’ll visit a famous wine museum
(this is really an incredible experience for wine lovers),
have lunch at a famous bodega, see the world’s most modern winery, visit a
couple of other bodegas for wine tasting, and stay two nights at an operating Bodega for
an ‘insider’ experience of what makes a winery tick.
You’ll also stay two nights at the 4-star Parador Santo
Domingo De La Calzada.
The Parador Santo Domingo De La Calzada occupies a former 12th
century hospital built to serve the pilgrims on the Road To Santiago.
The first known pilgrim, the French Bishop of Le Puy, stopped in this city
on his traverse of what was later to become know as the Way of St. James.
Both the city of Santo Domingo, and the Parador
have been inextricably bound up in the history of this famous
pilgrimage route – the Road to Santiago. The founder of this city, a
priest named Domingo, was instrumental in establishing the route to
Santiago. He was given money with which to purchase lands through
which the route ran, and he built bridges over impassable rivers along the
way. He also built, in the 11 century, a hospice for pilgrims – on
which site the later hospital (now the Parador) was eventually built.
The Parador Santo Domingo De La Calzada is in the heart of the compact old quarter, in an area
steeped in history. Directly adjacent to the Parador
is the cathedral with its wonderful bell tower. The Albergue del
Peregrinos and it Jacobean museum is also right next to the hotel.
The gastronomy of the region is renowned, and many travel here from
afar expressly for that reason. As well as being in the heart one of
the world’s most famous wine regions – La Rioja – this fertile land along
the Ebro river has hundreds of small farms and large vegetable
gardens that yield, perhaps, the highest quality produce in Spain. These
provide the raw ingredients for unforgettable dining experiences. A
meal in the Parador restaurant should not be missed!
Interesting nearby excursions from Parador Santo Domingo De La
– The old quarter of the city is right outside your
bedroom window, and makes for very interesting rambling.
Interesting day trips from the Santo Domingo De La Calzada Parador include:
This city is perfectly situated to serve as a base for day trips into
the Rioja wine district and points further afield.
– Logroño and Haro – these are the two wine centers of the Rioja
area where many of the well-known Bodegas have their outlets (especially
in the Barrio de la Estacion near the train station in Haro).
– La Guardia is a fascinating hilltop village whose inhabitants have
tunneled out miles of underground passages through the centuries – in
which they age their beloved Rioja wine.
– Burgos and its awe-inspiring Gothic
Cathedral is well worth a visit – about 45 min drive.
– The now-famous new Bodega ‘cathedral’ built by Frank Ghery at the
always-famous Marques de Riscal winery.
– Bilbao and its Guggenheim museum are only about an hour and 45
minutes drive north (fast freeway from Haro).
Staying at the Parador Santo Domingo De La Calzada is
to stay in a place literally dripping with history (and wine!).
The 3rd stage of your wine experience will be the Ribera Del Duero D.O.
This is Spain’s fastest growing wine district, and no
Spanish wine tour would be complete without discovering what the Spanish
wineries in the Ribera have to offer.
When this DO was established in 1982, there were only 9 bodegas. In 15
years, the number of bodegas increased ten-fold to 97 in 1997, then
almost doubled again in the following 7 years to have a count of 178
bodegas in 2004. Both vineyard plantings and volume of wine
produced has tripled in that last 7 year period.
And this growth all while the quality of the wine has
also steadily improved. These are among Spain’s very finest, and
wines from this region are now some of the most sought-after in the
world. Picking a wine from any of the bodegas here will almost
invariably get you a very good wine – the quality is that consistent.
Of course, a few of the famous bodegas here produce world-class wines of
One of those, and the bodega that started it all off as
far back as 1864 is the renowned Vega Sicilia. The bodega
and its wines are legendary in Spain – almost mythical. Indeed –
every Spaniard and aficionado of Spanish wines, tries to acquire at
least one bottle of Vega Sicilia Unico in their lifetime!
The young wines of the Ribera Del Duero, the "jovenes,"
are very bright, packed with strong fruit flavors, crisp and clean, and
have become the favorite ‘type’ of many. The crianzas and the
reservas have, of course, the added complexities that make for glorious
wines in the best years (and the prices are now are reflecting this).
You will visit some of Ribera Del Duero’s most
well-known wineries and wine-spots . . .
You’ll visit a castle under whose walls are stored the
wines of one of the area’s premier bodegas, and while there,
you’ll discover the area’s finest wine museum. There will be two
bodega visits set up for you – and your Ribera Duero hotel will be one of
the region’s finest Bodega Hotels (pictured below) where you’ll stay two
* Trip tip:
If you like wood-fired oven roasted meats – lamb and kid – stop for
lunch at Asador Mauro in Peñafiel. The father and sons who run
this place have established a reputation far and wide for the
traditional taste and quality of their meals.
You will also stay at the Parador Lerma.
Parador Lerma (official name is Parador Palacio Ducal De Lerma) is one of the most recently added to the
This Parador is a Ducal Palace
that was constructed on the site of a 15th c. castle between
1601 and 1617.
The first Duke of Lerma ordered the castle built as a place of lodging, rest
enjoyment for King Felipe III.
Lerma Parador is situated right on the Plaza Mayor, in the city of Lerma .
is a small town
with a comfortable feel,
yet not many foreign
tourists visit here.
* Trip tip:
Try to stop and visit the grandest Gothic cathedral of them all in
Burgos on your drive down from the Rioja. Alternatively, you could
drive (about a 30 min drive) up from the Parador for a night-time visit
when the Cathedral is all lit
up, and the local folks will all be out participating in the "paseo."
The final two nights of your trip will be in Madrid.
We will point you to the very best tapas and wine-tasting venues in the
city. As well, you’ll be staying in a 4-star hotel that is one of
Madrid’s best-kept secrets (this one is a real gem), and thereby wind-down
you trip in style.
Upon booking the
"Wine and Paradors"
we will provide you with our complete
"Wine and Trip
This report contains dozens more interesting tid-bits
like the wine and trip tips sprinkled through above, as well as a vintage, and buying
guide, maps, photos, suggestions, etc.. With this – you’ll start your trip
already as a budding Spain wine expert . . .
and by its end be a verifiable, and experienced aficionado of Spain’s
In the interim,
you will have seen wondrous sights, stayed in luxurious surroundings – and
– you will have tasted many marvelous
* We will be happy to re-arrange, and/or modify this
package in any way that best suits you personal preferences.
Contact us today
and begin planning your
unforgettable "Wine and Paradors" vacation.
* Visit our hotel pages * Parador Hotels
(Spain wine tour
information provided by SpainParador.com)