During the extraordinary trip that our beloved mascot Free made last February, wine was certainly on the menu!
La Rioja, a wine lovers’ paradise and a stone’s throw from Bilbao.
The province of Álava includes a small part of La Rioja region and has been producing excellent wines for since Roman times. The Rioja Alavesa forms part of a fertile alluvial plain which extends into the Ribera region of the neighbouring Basque province of Navarre, and of course into the province of La Rioja itself, across the river.
Travelling through the ancient vineyards there are some real gems belonging traditional wine families as well as some extremely avant-garde bodegas. It is worth mentioning two of these wonderful places:
Under the vineyards: the tradition of the caves in Eguren – Ugarte
Eguren – Ugarte is a renowned family-run winery offering a unique experience. Surrounded by vineyards, the winery boasts a stunning underground cave where wine can age in perfect conditions. This underground bodega is an authentic labyrinth with a decidedly medieval feel.
Eguren – Ugarte is not only a vineyard but also a perfect venue for all kind of events and private dinners. There is also a small hotel connected to the bodega.
Rioja producers now come in many guises. One good example of “new style Rioja without totally abandoning tradition” is Bodegas Baigorri in Rioja Alavesa. Baigorri has only been producing since 2000 but now has 55 hectares. The winery is extremely proud of its Maturana Tinta, a very old and native variety.
Baigorri was designed and built by Basque architect Iñaki Aspiazu, who created a unique building, adapting the structure to the topography of the land and creating a new way of wine producing using gravity. The winery boasts six underground levels where all phases of production are optimised, avoiding the use of mechanical methods of any kind.
Baigorri also has a Michelin starred restaurant with stunning views of the vineyards.
San Sebastian: between the sea and the hills, the secrets of Txacoli.
The San Sebastian area is a cool region characterized by verdant vineyards on its hillsides. Many of them overlook the Cantabrian Sea. Here they produce Txakoli, a traditional effervescent white wine unique to the area. The region is characterized by small family grape growers like the following cellars that our mascot Free met recently.
This family-run winery is specialized in Txacoli and boasts unique views of the Cantabrian Sea with green vineyards behind. The family makes a small amount of white wine with a large dose of love. Intimate visits and tastings are available here, all hosted by a member of the family.
This small paradise located in Okondo in the Ayala valley produces white and rosé Txacoli and also gin! The refurbished rustic outbuilding boasts an incredible room for wine tastings, events and all kinds of activities. Wooden interiors create a warm atmosphere making for an authentic winery Basque experience. The gardens are also perfect for outdoor pursuits too!