RAISE A GLASS TO THE HAR­VEST

La Rioja’s cap­i­tal makes a great hol­i­day for wine-lovers, says Sam Wylie-har­ris

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - What's On - - TRAVEL -

Whether you want to sam­ple the lat­est vin­tage or take a tour, the fa­mous Span­ish wine re­gion of Rioja has al­ways been a wine-lovers’ hotspot.

A high­light, if you can make it, is the re­gion’s an­nual har­vest wine fes­ti­val, a week­long car­ni­val that kicks off on Septem­ber 15.

Har­vesters set their sights on Rioja’s the lush, green vine­yards, which are home to the tem­pranillo grape, and bush vines that blan­ket the land­scape up­hill to­wards the Sierra de Cantabria moun­tains.

Along with great value reds and ma­ture ri­o­jas, for a true taste of the prov­ince, the har­vest also makes for a great ex­cuse to wield a pair of se­ca­teurs and join the army of pick­ers (if you have the back for it).

Oth­er­wise, it’s party time in the nar­row, me­dieval streets of the city of Logrono where you can meet wine­mak­ers and drink in freshly crushed grapes.

“When you think of the north of Spain, many will imag­ine San Se­bas­tian, but there’s an­other hid­den gem less than a two hour drive away - Logrono.

The vi­brant cap­i­tal city of the Rioja re­gion is renowned for mak­ing some of the best wines in Spain,” says Elena Adell, chief wine­maker, Campo Viejo.

“Trav­ellers will find some of the most au­then­tic Span­ish food and wine ex­pe­ri­ences here, and it’s also where our Campo Viejo win­ery lives.”

To help you ex­plore this colour­ful town, here’s what to do when you get there...

Visit be­tween Au­gust and Oc­to­ber

Con­sis­tent with the rest of Europe, the end of Au­gust to Oc­to­ber is the best time to see the vines, when the fruit is ripe, juicy and ready to har­vest. If you’re pas­sion­ate about wine, visit the Campo Viejo vine­yard, an 90 min­utes from Bil­bao Air­port, and make time for the win­ery tour and tast­ings.

En­joy the view

Only 50 kilo­me­tres from the town of Logrono is the breath­tak­ing Par­que Nat­u­ral Sierra de Ce­bollera. Here you can take in a land­scape of high moun­tains and large nat­u­ral wild pine, beech and oak forests. Although, if you’re driv­ing, a wine-fu­elled pic­nic will have to wait.

Em­brace the his­tory

For the ca­sual drinker who wants to en­joy other forms of art other than winemaking, Monas­te­rio de Yuso is not far from Logrono and one of the old­est monas­ter­ies in Spain. Built by Bene­dic­tine monks, the beau­ti­ful 18th-cen­tury fres­coes still main­tain their rich colours, and visi­tors can also dis­cover the his­tory of the Span­ish lan­guage.

Check out Laguardia

To keep you ad­ven­tur­ing through the re­gion’s scenery, the won­der­ful walled town of Laguardia is steeped in his­tory and will make you feel like you’ve been trans­ported back to a clas­sic Span­ish me­dieval set­tle­ment. Be­low the cob­bled streets, the town has an ex­ten­sive un­der­ground wine cel­lar with tun­nels run­ning un­der most of the town’s homes.

Wine and dine in style, or sim­ply snack

En­joy the best of Bil­bao and Basque coun­try by dis­cov­er­ing their gourmet food and wine pair­ings, and fa­mous pin­txos (lo­cal tapas served on rounds of bread). The town is packed with Miche­lin star res­tau­rants, but if you’re on a bud­get, then Plaza Nueva in the heart of the old town has loads of wine bars and is buzzing at the week­end.

Be en­ter­tained al­fresco

Eat­ing out­side is a must in Logrono, and Bar Se­bas is the per­fect place to scoff a tra­di­tional Span­ish omelette with a glass of red.

Bring the wine ex­pe­ri­ence home

Here’s where to find two of Campo Viejo’s award-win­ning wines...

Campo Viejo Tem­pranillo 2016, Rioja (£7, Sains­bury’s) is a young and vi­brant wine with ripe red cherry fruits, sweet spice and vanilla notes.

While Campo Viejo Reserva 2013, Rioja (£9.50, Sains­bury’s) is a blend of tem­pranillo, gra­ciano and mazuelo. The wine spends 18 months in oak and brim with rich black fruits with notes of cin­na­mon, cigar box, clove and vanilla.

The Campo Viejo win­ery, Monas­te­rio de Yuso, Rioja and nar­row streets of Laguardia

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