Rioja Travel: Haro Guide

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If you have ever considered a taking a short break to enjoy great food and drink fantastic wine in beautiful scenery, then Rioja should be high on your list of destinations.

Rioja is a well-known style of wine, yet the region itself is still the ‘path less travelled’ and there are many discoveries still to be made and shared.

Centre of Haro

Centre of Haro

The simplest itinerary for lovers of great food and wine is to fly to Bilbao to visit its historic centre and modern Guggenheim-inspired cultural centres. It is also surrounded by an amazing concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants, but also just the simple and delicious cuisine of the Basque country, dominated of course by seafood.

The trip from this gastronomic metropolis to wine country is just one hour by car, to Haro – the capital of Rioja Alta and historic centre of the Rioja wine trade. Haro is where you will find the world-famous names like Muga, CVNE (or Cune), Roda, Lopez de Heredia (also known as Tondonia), Bodegas Bilbainas and their Viña Pomal wine, and of course the home of Banda Azul itself, Bodegas Paternina. All to be found within even the most amateur wine taster’s limited spitting distance. Read on for descriptions on the best of these wineries to visit, and a selection of their wines.

Haro from the vineyards

Haro from the vineyards

Haro is a small town, with attractions very much focused on the vinous and culinary, especially on the gastronomic delights of Rioja, and a great place for a short stay. If you are planning on visiting a winery or two, check-in to one of the great local hotels and restaurants to make the most of it.

Recommended Hotels:

Hotel Los Agustinos: The main hotel in town is an impressive historical building, having once been not only a convent, but a military garrison and a prison, but don’t worry as the beautifully cloistered setting is now a 4-star hotel with large rooms and modern facilities, though still an independent hotel experience.

Address: San Agustín, 2 · 26200 Haro · La Rioja · Tel: +34 941 311 308 · email: losagustinos@aranzazu-hoteles.com

Hotel Arrope: If you are looking for something a bit more intimate, the Arrope, immediately across the street from Los Agustinos, is a warm and friendly hotel with 20 well-appointed rooms and a welcoming bar downstairs.

Address: Virgen de la Vega 31 · 26200 · Haro (La Rioja) · Tel: +34 941 304 025 · email: info@hotelarrope.com

Los Zapatos Morados: If you really want something spacious and private, I highly recommend the apartments just off the central square called “Los Zapatos Morados”. These 6 apartments are located in a recently refurbished building, and decorated to a stunning level. Each has its own bedroom, sitting room (with extra bed), small kitchen and bathroom. This is like a suite in the hotels, yet at a fraction of the price. Definitely worth considering if you are staying a few more days and want a homely space to escape to.

Address: C/ Virgen de la Vega 17 · 26002 Haro · La Rioja · Tel: +34 644 225 905 email: hola@loszapatosmorados.com

Stay tuned for details of the wineries to visit, and a little on their history and current wine offerings as there are many to visit in this town, all within walking distance to avoid having to worry about combining wine experiences and driving.

Breathing life back into this site

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After an extended hiatus, there will be new content on this site soon.

I apologise for the silence, but after many years spent travelling back and forth to Rioja, I now no longer travel as much and don’t get the opportunity to spend enough time in Rioja to get new content and ideas.

Rioja Vineyard at dusk

Rioja Vineyard at dusk

However, this year I was lucky enough to spend a considerable time in the region and to visit some fantastic wineries, taste some great wines, and meet some really interesting people.

I may not update this site as much as I’d like to, but this is still a great place to put this content so that Rioja lovers, like me, will hopefully be able to find it and make use of it.

Look out for new posts coming up on the wineries of Haro in particular

Salud!

Spanish Street Life comes to London

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If you are looking for something to do this sunny weekend (3 – 6 May, 2013) in London, get yourself down to the Southbank Centre to experience a little bit of a Spanish lifestyle at the Campo Viejo “Streets of Spain” event.

Streets of Spain Event London 2013

Streets of Spain Event London 2013

Not only will temperatures be more like those we expect from our Iberian neighbour, but you can buy some fantastic meats, cheese, olives and vegetables (including some delicious dried mushrooms) DIRECT from the world-famous La Boqueria Market, a major destination for UK and US travellers as they tour Barcelona.

La Boqueria Stall - spice

La Boqueria Stall – spice

La Boqueria Stall - jamon

La Boqueria Stall – jamon

To top it all off, you can enjoy all of this with a glass, or several, of Rioja.

Campo Viejo WInes

Campo Viejo WInes

London already hosts the annual Rioja-focused “Tapas Fantasticas” outdoor event in June with 20 or so Rioja wineries and local tapas restaurants, and the success of this “experience” has encouraged brands to consider more such events, I’m sure.

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The exclusive sponsor of the Streets of Spain event is Campo Viejo, the well-known Rioja wine brand which is now available all over the world. The range on show includes the regular Rioja ranges of young Tempranillo, Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva, but also two Cava wines – including a rather tasty rosé.

Campo Viejo may be a large volume brand, but I tasted the range recently and was actually pleasantly surprised by the style – approachable, but with some surprisingly complex fruit and elegant tannins. I think recent vintages are more interesting than they were a couple of years ago, and they’ll probably go down well in the relaxing surroundings.

While many wine events can be off-putting because they are overly focused on wine “education”, this is a much more relaxed and informal way to soak up some atmosphere, try some wines and get to know a little bit more about Spain.

Spanish Wine Masterclass

Spanish Wine Masterclass

For those with a bit of time on their hands, there are several 1-hour wine tasting masterclass sessions (but these may already be sold out, sorry!), including one where you get to blend your own Rioja wine.

Tools for Blending your own Wine

Tools for Blending your own Wine

There is also a tapas lunch space which converts into a pop-up restaurant in the evening, and a cinema (if you want to escape the heat for a few minutes).

Spanish Cinema

Spanish Cinema

Pop Up Restaurant

Pop Up Restaurant

And to add a cultural aspect, they’ve even brought over “street artists” who will be creating a unique piece that will be on display throughout the event

Street Art Mural - work begins

Street Art Mural – work begins

All in all, this is a great experience, and it is good to see a big brand developing an activity that will engage a broad range of consumers.

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Shopping back in time

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Step back in time when you visit Rioja, not just by selecting a wine that might have been made before you werey born but still tastes great, but by finding those local treasures in the old town area of Logroño.
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One of these is Sombrereros Dulin, the milliners (hat shop) on Portales, the pedestrian artery of the old town.

The shop has been trading continuously since 1863, but it’s current shopfitting dates from 1912. The elegant carved  wood cabinets line the walls of the reception area where even today, the minimal window displays give way to open space for the staff to select styles, sizes and ranges just for you. It is a style of personal shopping that we rarely experience today.

I find it intriguing to find Stetsons and Panama hats in the heart of Spain’s wine heartland, but I love this shop so much, I only buy my hats here.

All smartly dressed wine tourists need to consider their headwear, don’t you agree?

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My new head gear for days in the sunny vineyards tomorrow

 

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