The Wine Tour awakens your senses to the courtship between wine, gastronomy and Spain’s rich culture. You start in Madrid with an introduction to a variety of Spanish wines and great tapas in the city’s old quarter. Then in La Ribera on the Duero River you’ll learn about grape cultivation and enjoy a wine tasting course in a castle. Next you’re off for Spain’s most renowned wine region, La Rioja with its mild, nearly perfect wine growing climate and soils. You’ll dine on some of the best cuisine in the world paired with some of the best wine in the world at La Venta de Moncalviño, a Michelin starred restaurant, and the fabulous two star Echauren restaurant in Ezcaray. You’ll visit small bodegas with intimate tasting rooms in the medieval walled town of Laguardia. Along the journey you’ll take a tapas tour in Vitoria, the capital of Basque country, and see lovely Burgos and its incredible cathedral. You’ll visit small farms that produce the fantastic Idiazabel cheese and wineries with remarkable modern architecture and small towns with houses with noble facades, stunning patios and where wine is stored in cellars beneath the streets. Join us for more on the Wine Tour!Linda Basque Country 2014 394

Day 1 (Friday): The day is open after arrival to relax or explore historic central Madrid. In the evening we meet at the hotel for orientation and to take a leisurely wine tasting and tapas tour in Madrid’s old quarter. BD

Day 2 (Saturday): We depart Madrid and head north to Aranda de Duero, the capital of the Ribera de Duero wine region. The landscape is filled with wildflowers, walled medieval towns, castles and small bodegas for the exploring oenophile. Ribera’s climate and soils are perfect for growing the early ripening Tempranillo grape and produce excellent wines. Beneath the streets of Aranda’s city center are more than 7 km of interconnecting wine cellars dating to the 15th century. You’ll visit the CIAVIN wine museum to better understand La Ribera’s viniculture and have a traditional lunch in a local eatery. In the evening is a visit to Portia, a spectacular winery designed by Norman Foster. BLD

DSCN0320Day 3 (Sunday): Today you’ll visit Viña Pedrosa, a family run winery in Roa de Duero, and enjoy the local way of life. Highlights are a tasting course and lunch with some of the best wines of La Ribera. In the evening you’ll visit Peñafiel’s main square and the hilltop castle which soars over the nearby vineyards and town. The blending of tradition, science and craft are apparent as you visit Pago de Carraovejas, a fantastic winery with renowned wines made under the direction of the Segovian chef Jose Maria Ruiz. BLD

Day 4 ( Monday ): Today you’ll go to Spain’s oldest and best known wine region, La Rioja. On the way you’ll dine in lovely Burgos, a midpoint stop on the St. James Way, and visit one of the most impressive Gothic cathedrals in Europe. You’ll be off to the beautiful medieval town of Laguardia in la Rioja and staying in a beautiful modern hotel situated in the historical buildings of the old town with spa where you’ll enjoy the good benefits of wine therapy. Evening is free to relax with dinner at the hotel. BLD

Day 5 (Tuesday ): We start our Rioja wine tour in Laguardia at the Villa Lucía wine museum where you’ll gain insight into the Rioja Wine area and the traditional winemaking process and attend a wine tasting course for a deeper introduction to this amazing world. Lunch is at the museum. In the evening you’ll have a private visit to a local, very traditional winery, El Fabulista, that is representative of time-honored viticulture melding with new technologies and architecture. Dinner is at the hotel. BLD

Day 6 (Wednesday) : Today we start our tasteful visit in Laguardia’s walled center with its stone houses, narrows streets and underground cellars. No cars are allowed in the old town due to the extensive underground bodegas. You’ll visit Casa Primicia, an excellent winery with the oldest calado (aging vault) in the area, dating from the middle ages, and with some of the best wines of La Rioja. Lunch is a picnic in the fields if weather is good or at the winery’s excellent restaurant. Afterwards you’ll tour some ancient La Rioja cultural sites and beautiful countryside. BLD

Day 7 (Thursday): Today you’ll go to Elciego where the ancient and the ultramodern cohabit, to visit Marques de Riscal, the spectacular winery designed by Frank Ghery. The architecture is as remarkable as the wine. You’ll have lunch at the hotel’s Bistro 1860 with a panoramic view of the valley and vineyards. Afterwards we are going to have a cooking class using wine as a main ingredient with a 1 Michelin star cook at a Rioja restaurant. BLD

Linda Basque Country 2014 359Day 8 ( Friday ): La Rioja’s gastronomic heritage compliments the marvelous wine and today you’ll visit a farm that produces Idiazabal cheese. You’ll see how this traditional Basque cheese is produced and then pair it with local wines. Lunch is in a local restaurant and then you’re off to Vitoria, the capital of Basque country. You’ll enjoy a brief exploration of this interesting city and then a tapas tour at some great local taverns. BLD

Day 9 (Saturday): Today you’ll visit Haro a city noted for its red wines and which hosts a wine festival each summer featuring a wine battle where all get soaked in the red stuff. In Haro you’ll visit Lopez de Heredia, one of the most famous ancient wineries of La Rioja and then the Vivanco wine museum, which is perhaps the finest museum anywhere on the subject. Lunch is in Haro. Afterwards you’ll learn about Patxaran liqueur, a delicious Navarre specialty made from the sloe berry. BLDLaRioja 102

Day 10 ( Sunday ): Today you’ll leave La Rioja and came back to Madrid. On the way, you’ll visit the Monastery of Yuso founded by St. Millán in the 6th century and which has long been a place of pilgrimage. A fine Romanesque church built in honour of the holy man still stands at the site of Suso. It was here that the first literature was produced in Castilian, from which one of the most widely spoken languages in the world today is derived. Lunch is in Ezcaray at an incredible restaurant with 2 Michelin stars. Stay the night in Madrid and make your last night memorable in this incredible city. BL

Day 11 ( Monday ):. Transfer to the airport as needed. Adiós and we look forward to seeing you again on another CultureConnectTour.

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