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Spain produces some of the best wines of the world and many consider the Rioja wines some of the best wines of Spain. Taking a wine tour will not only allow you to experience the wines of the area but can immerse you in the culture, history and art of Spain.

rioja wine set up for tasting

By prearrangement with our Spain Travel Agent we met our guide, for the Rioja wine tour in Laguardia. As luck would have it, we had arrived in Laguardia during a busy holiday weekend. The grape harvest was in full swing and the Bodegas (wine cellars / producers) and their owners were very busy. Never the less, our guide had been able to arrange visits with three wineries for tours, one of them to be a private tour with the son of a Bodega owner.

The exact day of harvest is hard to determine, it usually falls within the first weeks in October, when the grapes ripen, and when by the judgment of the producer, the grape has achieved the sweetness for the wine they seek to produce.

Entering the Bodega El Fabulista we were greeted by a sight only visible for a few days during the harvest season. On the far end of the room, a young man, standing in a pit, could be seen slowly stomping his way back and forth. Below the young man's feet was a 10 foot pile of grapes.

Our guide explained that most Bodegas now use machines to extract the juice and create the "wine must" but a few Bodegas still use the traditional foot method.

stomping graps in Larguardia, first step in making wine
Photo Above - Stomping grapes; the juice produced by the stomping flows through a filter at the bottom of the pit and ends up in a vat located in the tunnels below ground.

mushed grapes in the pit
Photo Above - Since grape stems are included in the "must", the worker does not go bare footed, but instead wears rubber boots.

When the traditional foot stomping method is used to extract the juice, normally it is done by a group and it becomes one big party.

We asked the young man how long would it take to "press" the grapes? "Three days." he replied.

heading down in to the tunnels under Laguardia

Below the streets and houses of Laguardia are the cellars and tunnels dug out in the Middle Ages to store food and probably, they were also used for shelter during times of siege. Today, these cellars are used to store and season wine.

After watching the man stomp around in the grapes it was time for us to descend in to the underground cellars

The photo to the left was taken about half way down the stair way.

As the large group ahead of us were directed down a tunnel, the Bodega owner pull us to the side and pulled back a curtain directing us to go in.

Continue to the second page of the Rioja Wine Tour.

Tip: To receive a wine tour most Bodages require advance reservations.

wine tasting

Use my recommended Spain Travel Agent to book your own Wine Tour.

Working with excellent local contacts, Madrid & Beyond opens up some of the best-kept secrets of Spain for the traveler. Personal guides, private wine tours, walking and bicycling excursions, balcony seats for the running with the bulls are just a few of the possibilities.

Note: Madrid and Beyond arranges trips in their entirety, not segments or single nights. Also Note: Madrid and Beyond's focus is on unique accommodations and three star hotels or above.

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This page last updated December 2006
Information on this page comes from my October 2006 visit to Spain