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Oct 20, 2009 06:25 PM

Rioja region in December

We're going to be passing through Rioja for two days in December. Right now, we're trying to decide between staying in Logrono or Haro. Does anyone have any advise as to which would be the better option in terms of eating and visiting wineries?

In addition, does anyone have any recommendations for wineries in the Rioja region?

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  1. There is no question that Haro is better for wineries especially in the city ring (including Muga, Roda,CNVE, La Rioja Alta, and Vina Tondonia) or nearby including San Vincente de la Sonsierra ( Sierra Cantabria/ Senoria de San Vincente) or Briones (Allende) even Laguardia is not far. Call or E-mail ahead for their hours.

    Stay at Los Augustinos in Haro a converted monastery, eat there at the best restaurant in Haro as well as whichever Beethoven is open, and visit several acceptable tapas bars in the city center. In Laguardia you can eat at either Marixa or Posada Mayor de Migueloa. (Watch out for the alcohol checkpoints near Laguardia).

    Logrono is far more lively and has dozens of tapas bars but not as accesible to top wineries.

    1. The whole region is fairly compact. We were just there, it's about 45 minutes from Haro to Logrono (if you take the highway) with wineries throughout, though most of the more prestigious are in Haro proper. If you can get a good rate, staying at the Marques de Riscal is very central (between Haro and Logrono in Elciego) and the architecture alone is worth the price (as is the breakfast). Another central option is Castillo el Collado in Laguardia.

      As for food, we ate at Asador Alameda not far from Logrono (excellent), Posada Mayor de Migueloa in Laguardia (no, do not go there unless you have no other good options), and Hector Oribe near Laguardia (very good, more modern, less typical of Rioja). The pintxos bars in Logrono are a blast, Calle Laurel, well worth it.

      I would highly recommend scheduling a tour at Lopez de Heredia's Vina Tondonia. Fascinating and fabled old school Rioja winemaker. If you are interested in architecture (contemporary), at least walking around Bodegas Baigorri and Bodegas Ysios is a must.

      Full recap of our trip with detailed photos over on "eBob" - - and all the photos on flickr -

      10 Replies
      1. re: biskuit

        For the winery tours, how necessary is it to be fluent in Spanish? For instance, we can navigate restaurants and bars pretty well using a few phrases and key words but that's about it.

        1. re: Jake Barnes

          Most of the major ones offer English tours, but you need to specifically request and book that in advance.

          1. re: Jake Barnes

            Contact them in advance and most will be able to supply an English guide. On a side note watch out for the A-124 near Laguadia as they have many ETA checkpoints disguised as alcohol checkpoints in the middle of the day. If you exit Ysios or other wineries near Laguardia after a simple tasting they will pull you over for a breathalizer and test you.

            As I said before I prefer Haro because many more wineries are very close driving. Yes Logrono is not far away but except for the toll road you must be very careful if you are stopping to taste. I find the Marques de Riscal incredibly overpriced an its architecture a curse on the Riojan landscape.

            1. re: Trip Klaus

              : )

              Yes, Frank Gehry's style is very polarizing. I happen to love the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Marques de Riscal (and Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago), and found that it played quite nicely with the surrounding vines, tiled roofs and old cathedral in Elciego. I know others do hate Marques de Riscal for bringing him in. And, agreed, it is incredibly overpriced. We got a half price rate that Starwood was running, which put it in line with other hotels. And yes, if you want to focus on wineries around Haro, that would be a great base. I enjoyed seeing the diversity between Haro and Logrono.

              1. re: Trip Klaus

                Is there any way to get around to the different wineries without actually doing the driving yourself?

                1. re: Jake Barnes

                  If you are staying at Los Augustinos, they couls arrange a car for you via a taxi driver for hire. Many of the wineries in Haro incl Muga and Roda CVNE are walking distance from each other in the old bodegas quarter on the edge of town. Easy taxi or even walking from the center. Some buses run between Haro and Lagurdia, check with the city council for bus schedules.

                  1. re: Trip Klaus

                    Thanks. And I think we are staying at Los Augustinos so that may work.

                    1. re: Trip Klaus


                      Do you have any insight to offer for visiting Roda and Lopez de Heredia? What are the tastings like there? Are they basic, lower level tastings or do they offer good vintages and reservas?

                      1. re: Joben

                        Since Roda has only been open since 1987 there really aren't a lot of vintages available. Since I visit almost every year I tend to only try the new releases in bottle and occasionally some barrel. It's tough for them to have tastings of older vintages because they sell most everything. However, if you write or talk to them ahead of time they are more likely to try to accomodate. Lopez obviously has a longer history, but again the best thing to do is tell them ahead of time what you're interested in and see what they say.

              2. re: biskuit

                No that "eBob" is dead - here's another link to our trip report -