Food is culture – in some countries more than others. And Spain is no exception! This is especially true of La Rioja, I think, as it is one of the more important wine regions of the world.
What strikes us when we travel through La Rioja, is that there is almost like a red thread of wine running throughout the area. The second thing that we notice, is the sympathetic price level in many of the regions bars and restaurants. This is definitely an area where you get plenty and various quality food at a reasonable price.
These are my
6 highlights from traveling La Rioja, Spain
Flying in an hot air balloon above the vinyards
This was my first time in a hot air balloon, and what an adventure it was! We startet quite early in the morning, with excellent weather conditions for first timers: no wind. It was a quiet and beautiful experience. The enthusiasm extended to a higher level, as we were served cava above the vineyards, before it was nine in the morning.
Visiting a bodega or two
As La Rioja consist of both Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja, I would recommend minimum a visit to a bodega in both areas. We visited Bodegas CVNE in Rioja Alta and Bodegas Ontañon in Rioja Baja.
Eat at a fancy two star Michelin-restaurant
Francis Paniego is the fifth generation, the son of the celebrated chef Marisa Sánchez, and has ensured the family run restaurant and hotel Echaurren two Michelin stars over the years. Situated in a town of 2 000 inhabitants, close to a ski resort and located in an area packed with vineyards, I would highly recommend a stay i Ezcaray – and of course to experience dining at this stylish and tasteful restaurant.
Visit the awarded World’s Best Wine Museum
Vivanco is a bodega and a wine museum, where we learn about the history of wine, while exploring the wine in all shapes through art, tradition and history. A visit well worth your time if you wish to learn more about wine and the region.
Eating pinchos in Logroño
In Calle del Laurel, which is not a street, but an area of streets, all dedicated to the fine tastings of tapas, or pinchos as they are called in La Rioja. Every place has its own specialty. I found my favourite at Bar Soriano, where the chef has served mushrooms with shrimp after the same recipe for 45 years (!).
Wine therapi treatment
Spending the time at a spa in Arnedillo, is really something else. Wonderful nature and the thermal baths is the attraction of the hotel we stayed in, Hotel Spa Balneario Arnedillo. After a soft massage, you get to spend time in the hot bath, while being served a small bottle of young, red Rioja-wine.