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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.