(Options: Customized Group or Individual Tours)
Rioja/Basque Country, Spain - 5 nights
Available year round
Here’s your chance to get hands-on experience preparing the unique gastronomy of Rioja. Learn from an expert, make the food yourself and then sit down to enjoy the result. Three inspiring meals over five days with wine tastings, too, to find the best wine to crown your achievements. There will also be short tours of hilltop villages, the vine-laden hills and plains, bodegas and a visit to two legendary viticultural dynasties of Rioja.
Enjoy an amazing 6-day accompanied cultural hands-on culinary tour that starts and finishes at Bilbao Airport and allows plenty of time to go exploring on your own. This culinary vacation will allow you to discover first hand why Rioja and Basque Country and its food have become so popular. With a few hands-on cooking classes of approximately three hours each and a combination of restaurant meals, tapas tours, food market visits and class preparation meals, a very good knowledge of Riojan and Basque cuisine can be attained.
PLACES: Modern Bilbao - home of the Guggenheim Museum with its lustrous exterior and collection of modern art. Haro is a graceful town on the banks of the River Ebro. It has a lively old quarter where elegant wine mansions meet lively pavement cafés. Logroño, the region’s capital, has wide boulevards reminiscent of Bordeaux from where the emigré wine makers came. Laguardia is a medieval hilltop fortress city with narrow cobbled streets flanked by bodegas and tapas bars.
VINEYARDS: Deep within the hillside crowned by the village of Laguardia are the great vine vaults of Bodega El Fabulista - the name says it all! Contino is unusual for its estate-bottled wine from the rare Graciano grape. At López de Heredia you will discover how the soil and the weather combine to create its exceptional wines. You will visit the pioneering chateau-styled Remelluri Estate wherein great treasures lie and the wines of Roda as well as their renowned olive-oil will impress the most sophisticated palates.
FOOD: Locations play a major part in creating just the right ambience for both wine tasting and dining on the region’s extraordinary variety of ingredients and culinary styles. The dishes you will create for yourself include: canapés, a Mediterranean menu, a traditional Rioja lunch, and a variety of typical regional dishes at Laguardia. The highlight is an invitation to one of Rioja’s oldest gastronomic societies. But between times you will be introduced to the most entertaining of food, tapas, and plenty of it.
COOKING CLASSES: The cooking classes take place at Villa Lucia in Laguardia and in the renowned Gastronomy Society: La Becada, located in a Palace-Mansion in the old quarter in Logrono. It is divided into several floors and, because of its privileged location, allows you to view some of the most beautiful landscapes of La Rioja. A walk through Villa Lucia, the former holiday estate of the family of Samaniego, a fable writer, is the best appetizer to enjoy the day.
At Villa Lucia you will find a botanical garden with shrubs and species from around the world, natural nooks with commemorative sculptures, soothing waterfalls, an exhibit of the most outstanding grape varieties, and artisan machinery dating from the time immemorial craft, marquees and terraces. There is also a magical museum where craftsmanship and technology merge in a place to offer visitors a unique exhibition. It is undoubtedly the highlight of this center. The museum focuses on the history and rituals of wine in an enjoyable way.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS TOUR:
- Unique locations for cooking classes
- Fabulous food including tapas
- Spectacular scenery
- Great wineries
- Excellent variety of menus
- Fabulous cook
- Fantastic tapas and local atmosphere.
HOTEL VILLA LAGUARDIA 4 STAR (first two nights)
This charming 4 star hotel is a luxurious but traditional and Provencal style hotel, using only the finest materials and perfectly combining fabrics, wallpaper, color schemes and furniture. Hotel Villa de Laguardia has 84 guest rooms with a swimming pool and wonderful gardens. The hotel is located in the capital of Rioja Alavesa, Laguardia, with the hill upon which the original town stands as a backdrop and set against the Cantabrian Mountains.
It is a unique setting for any kind of activity related to gastronomy, wine, culture and nature. It is 50 Km from Vitoria and 18 Km from Logrono with San Sebastian and Bilbao being approx. 150 KM away, about a 1 hr. drive from both international airports.
THREE OR FOUR STAR CITY CENTER HOTEL (third, fourth and fifth nights in Logrono)
Logroño. Our selection of hotels work overtime to impress it guests! These hotels keep reinventing themselves to even higher standards of excellence. The rooms are a delight with very modern amenities without detracting from their individual character. The hotels are centrally located near the cathedral and the gastronomic cornucopia of Calle Laurel.
Hotel Marques De Vallejo is situated in the historic and cultural centre of the town of Logroño, this emblematic building, built in 1911, was known popularly as Posada de las Animas (Inn of the souls). This boutique hotel is located right in the center, walking distance of the main gastronomic streets, where you can find the best pinchos and tapas in northern Spain, the old part with the cathedral and numerous churches and the outdoor dining area full of terraces where you can have delicious meals accompanied by excellent wines.
Arrival at Bilbao Airport.
You are welcomed and escorted by our guide to our carefully selected hotel in La Rioja in our vehicle. Check in at our pre selected hotel in Laguardia.
Welcome drink, menu hand out and introduction to the tour program.
Optional: Guggenheim museum visit in Bilbao subject to arrival time
Tutored wine tasting of a selection of the most representative wines of La Rioja conducted by a wine expert. You will learn different techniques to taste wine as well as the unique characteristics of the wines of Rioja wine region.
First hands-on cooking class directed by British born Kathy followed by lunch.
Tapas tour in the amazing town of Laguardia, you will sample the best tapas of this town in Rioja Alavesa as well as mixing with the locals and experiencing the evening life in such a lovely town. (5 tapas and 5 small drinks included-dinner).
Private guided tour conducted by local expert of one of the most astonishing medieval towns in Europe: Laguardia. Located on a hill, surrounded by a valley of vineyards, overlooking the back-drop of the Cantabrian Mountains. You will walk through the narrow-cobbled streets of the town enjoying stunning views as well as visiting small wine/food shops and bars.
Privileged visit to one of the best underground cellars in the medieval town of Laguardia. It is located under the Palace of the Samaniegos, where Félix María de Samaniego was inspired to write his literary works. The cellar elaborates its wines in a traditional way. We can see two wineries on the ground floor of the cellar, where 2,000 pitchers of wine. (32,000 litres) are elaborated annually, treading the grapes like in ancient times. We can also see a press, which dates from 1903, and a machine called "despalilladora" which is used to remove the stalks from the grapes. At about seven meters depth, we find three parallel corridors, which are linked among them with others perpendicular. The first of them is used for the elaboration of wine, the second one is used or ageing and the last one is prepared for the tasting of food and wines, both white and red, or young and crianza. Wine Tasting
Second hands-on cooking class followed by lunch
Guided visit to Winery Campillo or Contino and vineyards walk followed by wine tasting. (We can change the winery and visit depending on the knowledge of the participants)
Transfer to Logrono, capital of Rioja for the last two days of our food and wine adventure. Check-in our selected hotel in the center of Logrono, walking distance from the food market and our gastronomy society palace located in the old quarter.
Guided visit to the food market. Logrono is located by the river Ebro and this area is named as the garden of Spain. You will be nicely surprised by the size, quality and taste of the vegetables and fruit in this area - a selection of ingredients for our dinner cooking class.
Next we head to Cameros, a region of contrasts in the mountains. On the way we stop in an almazara (Oil Mill) where we learn how they make extra virgin olive oil, an essential ingredient in our gastronomy. Olive oil tasting included. If we have time we can also visit a beehive yard, learning how honey is obtained and different applications and products from honey.
After this interesting experience we have a traditional lunch in a local restaurant based on a menu typical of this quiet and mountainous area: Los Cameros
Return to Logrono. Free time to relax and enjoy Logrono before our next cooking class. We head to our gastronomy society palace for our third hands-on cooking class followed by dinner.
Today we leave behind our passion for cooking and we relax to visit and experience two unique wineries including a tasting of two of the best extra virgin olive oils. We will also be lucky enough to have one of the best traditional lunches in a fabulous setting.
Guided visit to one of the oldest and prettiest Wine Estates in Europe: Lopez de Heredia. Tour conducted possibly by one of the members of the family.
A visit to this traditional wine estate will demonstrate more clearly than a thousand words or pictures just what tradition in the making of fine wines really means in the 21st century.
Guided visit to one of the most prestigious wineries in Spain for its winemaking methods, their constant research in perfecting the wines as well as experimenting with the grapes. They have mastered one of the best wines in Spain: Cirsion.
Extra virgin olive oil tasting: Dauro
Superb typical lunch from the area, overlooking the vineyards and accompanied by the much acclaimed wines from Rioja.
In the evening we have a fabulous treat: Guided tapas tour in the famous gastronomic street: Calle Laurel, sampling the best tapas of the area accompanied with wine or beer. You will experience authentic and unique tapas from Rioja, while you mix with the locals.
Return transfer to Bilbao airport. (Time, subject to participant schedules)
*The content or order of the itinerary may change depending on dates, availability of services or activities, local festivals/holidays, weather constraints, etc. Menus are samples and may vary according to the season
A minimum of 2 participants is required to run this tour and the tour is limited to a maximum of 8 participants.
(The number of participants refers to how many persons are required to run the tour, not to how many persons you must have in your party. Please inquire.)
HOW TO ARRIVE
Closest international airport is Bilbao situated about 100 kilometres from Haro (the first hotel is in Haro and the Haro has a train station connected to train stations in Logrono 45 km (capital of La Rioja), Bilbao (100 km) and San Sebastian (180 km)
*These details are provided as additional information. Please check below to see if transfers are included in this tour.
Based on Two Persons - Double Room/US$3575
*Please inquire about lower pricing based on 3 or more persons
*Please inquire about how many participants may already be booked in the group so we can give you the appropriate price
La Rioja Wine Festival Supplement (September 18-22, 2019)/US$125
*Pricing may vary depending on market fluctuation or season
After availability is confirmed, a 30% non-refundable deposit per person and the completed and submitted registration form will secure your reservation. Final payment is due in full 75 days before your arrival date.
Available year round upon request
*Also available year round for individual or group custom departures; please inquire about alternate pricing
*Transport for 4 full days
*Transfers from and to Bilbao airport
*Personalised English speaking expert guide throughout the tour
*Five (5) nights' accommodation based on double occupancy with private bath
(two nights' in a 4 star villa-hotel and three nights in a three or four star in the center of Logrono)
*Three (3) hands-on cooking classes
*Five (5) full breakfasts
*Two (2) tapas tours
*Five (5) lunches
*Three (3) dinners (two dinners based on tapas)
*Four (4) winery guided visits including wine tasting
*Tutored wine tasting
*Guided visit to a food market
*Commented extra virgin olive oil tasting
*Guided visits to an oil mill and possibly to see a beekeeper
*Private guided walking tour of a medieval town
*All entrances and fees
Airfare, personal expenses, travel insurance, meals not specified in itinerary, and tips are not included.
For further inquiries or to register, click here.
Please contact us for cancellation policy information. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
Jeanette P., Livonia, Michigan"Jo-Ann is a pleasure to work with. She is very accommodating and responds almost immediately to any emails that are sent. I have worked with Jo-Ann on several trips now and will continue to do so. The Spain trip that we just returned from was amazing. it was a combination of three of her Spanish trips and it was very well organized and a whole lot of fun! This trip allowed us to see Barcelona, San Sebastian, and Rioja and it was a wonderful mix. It was a true foodie experience, like nothing we had ever experienced before. Our guides were very knowledgeable and fun to be with."
"Jo-Ann, We had such an amazing time in the Rioja region! I knew the trip was going to be fantastic, but everything far exceeded my expectations. Our guide was great and not only did a good job of keeping us on schedule (not an easy task, I can assure you), but took us to all the local dives and dishes when he led us through the maze of tapas bars. We would have missed out on so much without his guidance. He even spent his personal time with us after a long day of touring - for him, not us :), to be sure we hit all the highlights of Logrono. The two of you organized an unforgettable trip! I can't thank you enough. Gratefully, Beth".
Marti S."Active Gourmet Holidays customized the perfect experience for our group in Rioja, Spain; delicious combination of food, wine and culture! This trip was an exceptional travel value giving us the opportunity enjoy and make memories!".
"Thank you for the excellent organisation of the Rioja winery tour. The guides you found for us were good-humoured, charming and professional. I wish you all the best with your future projects".
"We enjoyed the trip very much - the choice of wineries to visit couldn't have been better. I think we went at the best time of the year to see the beautiful colours of the region - certainly a lovely part of Spain to visit. I especially enjoyed the lunch on the Saturday in the traditional winery - set against the backdrop of the mountains. Many thanks."
"The Gods have certainly gifted La Rioja with perfection in all things - the sun, the gloriously fire-coloured vines covering such a dramatic landscape, the amazing buildings so fearlessly set into the very best that nature can offer, the gorgeous wines we tasted which were so plentifully offered and the wonderful food .... and here I am running out of superlatives to describe what was for us one of the most pleasurable trips we have ever taken. Our thanks to you for the excellent organisation and I have already been recommending you to friends and colleagues who were interested in hearing about the trip."
"We really enjoyed the wine tour of Rioja. The hotels, the food, and especially our guide, Alberto, were fantastic! One of my favourite things was the interesting contrasts of style, size, and philosophies that the selected wineries illustrated. I also was relieved that it was a very non-snobby approach to appreciating wine. I hate the pretentious way some people talk about wine. We had dinner the first night at the restaurant (Las Duellas) at our hotel. My mother and I were both shocked at the quality of the seafood at this restaurant--as good or better than any I have had in Los Angeles, or even on Kauai, which certainly has some of the best fish in the world. So I am extremely satisfied with the tour, and will definitely be recommending you to my friends. Thanks so much."
"I just wanted to say a BIG thank you for organising my parent's wine tour - they had an absolutely fabulous time and were so over-excited when I got home from Ibiza, that it was hard for them to contain themselves!!!! Thanks so much for making it wonderful for them!!! I will definitely recommend your tours to anyone else looking for something similar in Spain. Many Thanks again."
This exciting region is depicted below. You can also access Google MapsTM by clicking HERE.
*In some cases mapping may give clients a general sense of location due to changes in venue. Please inquire about specific location.