Rioja Wine Region

Which wineries to visit in Rioja

Selection of excellent wineries to visit in the wine region of Rioja

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Rioja - Spain
Kasper Christiansen
Text & photos: Kasper Christiansen
April 14th 2020 (revised version)

Riojas is one of the biggest wine regions in Europe, although not the biggest in Spain (Castilla la Mancha is bigger) with more than 80.000 hectares of vineyards and over 1200 wineries.

The anormous amount of wineries makes it difficult to make a short list of the best wineries, but below you will find a selection of some of the very best quality producers that also offer high quality visits in English.

Below you can read about top wineries like Muga, Artadi, Contador and Marques de Riscal.

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Artadi

This legendary winery was founded in 1985 by Juan Carlos Lopez de Lacalle and is one of the few Spanish wineries to have obtained 100 Parker Points. Since 2015 Artadi has not been oficially part of Rioja, and is sold under "Vino de España".

Artadi Winery
The Artadi winery
The wines of Artadi
The winery produces a wide range of high quality wines, among them Viñas de Gain blanco, Viñas de Gain tinto, San Lorenzo de Quintanilla, Artadi El Carretil, Artadi Grandes Añadas and La Poza de Ballesteros.

The winery visit
Artadi offers two types of visits: a visit with the tasting of 2 young wines: Artadi Joven and Artadi Viñas de Gain and the Premium visit with the tasting of Artadi Viñas de Gain and Artadi Pagos Viejos.

Contador

One of the very best wineries in Rioja. This excellent winery was founded by Benjamin Romeo in San Vincente de la Consierra in 1995. The wines Contador 2004 and Contador 2005 both received impressive 100 Parker Points..

Wine cellar at Contador
The wine cellar at Bodega Contador
The wines of Bodega Contador
The winery produces some of the best wines in Rioja: the young red wine A mi manera, Predicador that comes in both a red and white version, the white wine Qué bonito cacareaba. The top wines of Contador are La Cueva del Contador, Carmen, Contador and La Viña de Andrés.

The winery visit
Contador offers a wide range of winery visits: a 2-hour visit that ends with the tasting of Predicador Blanco and Predicador Tinto. Or you can choose the extensive 3-hour visit with tastings of Predicador Blanco, Predicador Tinto, La Cueva de Contador & La Viña de Andrés.

Muga

Muga is another of Rioja's high quality producers. The winery's history goes back to the 19th century with the founding in 1870.

Muga Winery
The wine cellar at Muga
The wines of Muga
The winery works with varieties like Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano and Viura & Malvasía to obtain high quality wines. The vines are distributed on four plots: El Estepal, La Loma, Baltracones and Sajazarra close to Montes Obarenes in Rioja Alta and the winery is found in Haro.

Muga is one of Rioja's bigger wineries with more than 200 hectares of vineyards and controlling more than 150 hectares more in the area. The best wines are Torre Muga, Muga Selección Especial, Prado Enea, Prado Enea Gran Reserva and Aro.

The winery visit
Muga offers several winery visits, the less expensive being a 1½ hour visit with tasting of 2 wines.

Ysios

A beautiful winery located just noth of Laguardia in  Rioja Alavesa, very close to the Cantabria Mountains. The winery was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Winery in Priorat
The winery Ysios has spectacular archtiecture designed by Santiago Calatrava
The wines
The winery works exclusively with the tempranillo grape and produces high quality wines, elaborated by the enologist Roberto Vincente. Among the wines are Ysios Edición Limitada and Ysios Reserva, both elegant and complex wines.

The winery visit
The winery visit consists in cellar visit and tasting and takes around 1½ hours.

Location of the winery
Ysios is located in Laguardia close to El Ciego and around 1 hour and 20 minutes' drive from Bilbao.

Location of the Ysios winery
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Ysios is located in Haro, just 1 hour's drive from Bilbao. The winery's location makes it ideal for a one-day winery tours to Rioja from Bilbao

Rioja Alta

A fantastic winery that offers great tours to the visitor with tastings of top wines and a tour through the installations. The winery celebrated 125 years of history in 2015 (it was founded on July 10th 1890) close to the train station in the city of Haro. The first wine maker of the winery was the French enologist Alfonso Vigier.

Rioja Alta Winery in Rioja
The facade of the Rioja Alta winery
The wines
The winery works only with high quality wines and have been praised by wine critics for wines like Gran Reserva 890 (98 Peñín Points and 98 Suckling Points), Gran Reserva 904 (95 Parker Points) and Viña Ardanza. The winery controls a total of 473 hectares of vineyard, and the winery works mainly with tempranillo but also graciano and garnacha grapes.

The winery visit
During the week, Rioja Alta offers winery visit that takes around 2 hours and ends with tasting of 4 wines. During the weekend, the visit is a bit shorter (1 hours and a half) and ends with a tasting of 3 wines.

Location of the winery
Rioja Alta is located in Haro (close to wineries like Bodegas Bilbainas, Bodegas Muga, CVNE and Roda), just an hour's drive from Bilbao.

Marques de Riscal

A historic winery in Rioja. Marques de Riscal is another winery in the Rioja that has invested huge sums in creating spectacular archtiecture. Their luxury hotel next to the winery was designed by Frank Gehry - the architect behind the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.

Marques de Riscal
Marques de Riscal's luxury hotel next to the winery designed by Frank Gehry
The wines
The oenologist Ricard Rofes has been in charge of the winery since 2007, and this has meant a change in style and higher quality wines at Scala Dei. Scala Dei produce the wines Artigots, Masedeu de Scala Dei, Scala Dei Cartoixa, La Creueta and St. Antoni de Scala Dei, among others.

The winery visit

Two twin brothers are in charge of the visits to the winery and give an excellent tour that focus on Scala Dei's history and the wines of the winery.

The wine hotel
This luxurious wine hotel was designed by the highly acclaimed archtiect Frank Gehry - the architect behind the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

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