At Totally Spain we’ve organised hundreds of winery holidays to Laguardia and the Rioja Alavesa wineries and we continue to be bowled over by the towns and villages, the wineries and the views. We revisited Rioja Alavesa last weekend, taking one of our custom packages and have come back buzzing. Here’s what we packed in:-
Everybody – from international chefs to the humble pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago – is raving about the North of Spain. But with so much on offer – what’s the best way to see this precious part of Spain? Here at Totally Spain we’ve been planning customised itineraries into Spain since 2000 and being based in Cantabria, we know how to navigate Green Spain, extremely well. Here’s what you need to factor in to your trip
The wineries of Castilla La Mancha have always intrigued me and I had the pleasure of spending the last weekend of October discovering some of the amazing, boutique wineries to be found in the Castilla La Mancha region. This is the biggest wine region in Spain and perhaps the least known as a producer of quality wines. They do produce excellent wines here although the majority of the wineries struggle to compete in the national market. My trip started in Madrid from where I took the high speed train to Ciudad Real. Remarkably it´s only 40 minutes to get there and well worth keeping in mind as another ideal daytrip or overnight stay from Madrid.
WINERIES OF CASTILLA LA MANCHA
The first winery I went to see was Pago del Vicario near Ciudad Real. I stayed here as they have attached to the winery a lovely 4 star boutique hotel, very modern and chic. The winery´s restaurant was terrific too, one whole side being entirely glazed and affording great views of the interior of the bodega. I didn´t get a chance to try the pool but it did look inviting. In summer they put on live music events and dining outdoors. A great approach by this winery looking to open it´s doors to the world. I´d recommend staying here for a night en route from Madrid to Cordoba. You won´t be disappointed. And their wine is simply wonderful.
Next I went to see the Dionisos winery in Valdepeñas. This was an incredible experience. Known as the Winery of the Stars this family winery dates back to the early 19th century and practises biological farming. All the decisions regarding the cultivation of grapes, harvesting, etc are taken based on the stars, the cosmic rhythms and lunar cycle. Inside the winery they have an inflatable globe large enough for 12 or more people to sit inside and contemplate the universe which they have projected on the walls of the globe. The wines produced here have won a number of awards. I highly recommend visiting Dionisos. It´s unique.
I next went to see the Bodegas Real another marvellous winery with an excellent restaurant where I enjoyed lunch. While at this winery I had the opportunity to enjoy some additional activities including a flight in a hot air balloon followed by a very unique guided tour through the vineyards on segways. Great fun.
My next stop was at the charming Bodegas Castiblanque in Campo de Criptana another family run winery but what a winery. It was a pleasure to visit. The people here eat, drink and sleep the world of wines. Our host while there, Miguel Angel Castiblanque, was charm personified. Later I was delighted to discover that on the outskirts of Campo de Criptana, you can visit the famous white windmills made famous by Cervantes in Don Quixote. Miguel Angel kindly took me to see them.
My last stop on this whirlwind tour was in Toledo at the Viñedo Cigarral Santa Maria situated in an unforgettable location in the hills above Toledo. This small yet impressive winery is owned by Adolfo Muñoz, a famous restaurateur who has a string of successful businesses to his name including a fine 5 star hotel. They produce just 4500 bottles of wine a year here but each bottle is much sought after. I enjoyed an incredible lunch here while soaking up the views of Toledo city. Later I took the high speed train from Toledo to Madrid, a mere 30 minute journey.