3 Days in La Rioja for Food and Wine Lovers

3 Days in La Rioja for Food and Wine Lovers

3 days in La Rioja
La Rioja is a must for wine lovers!

It took me seven years in Spain to finally explore the wineries of La Rioja— embarrassing, I know! The occasion was my 30th birthday, and my partners in crime were Alejandro and my mother, who had flown in to surprise me for the event. The irony? Neither are really into wine…

So began my weekend of accidental drunkenness, forced to finish off every bottle we ordered (tough life, I know!).

While La Rioja can be explored in only three days, I found myself wishing for more time. There are hundreds of bodegas in the region– we only visited about ten! Here are my personal tips for 3 days in La Rioja.

Where to Stay in La Rioja: Hotel Teatrisso

La Rioja is splattered with charming boutique hotels and luxury properties alike, and there are so many parts of the region to choose from. From the astounding Marqués de Riscal Hotel to the many country homes (casa rurales), there’s something for everyone. We booked at a new-ish boutique property called Hotel Teatrisso, which was lovingly restored by owners Laura and José Ángel. The quirky rooms are all theater and arts themed, and the grounds and small village (Cuzcurrita del Río Tirón) was a perfect place to disconnect. Breakfast was also fantastic– filled with homemade pastries, cakes, and Spanish omelets.

Hotel Teatrisso; where to stay in La Rioja; Boutique hotels in La Rioja
The funky rooms at Hotel Teatrisso.
Hotel Teatrisso; Boutique hotels in La Rioja; where to stay in La Rioja
A dreamy bathtub 🙂
where to stay in La Rioja-- the beautiful boutique hotel Teatrisso
The gorgeous village of Cuzcurrita del Río Tirón!
Cuzcurrita del Río Tirón, La Rioja
Such a beautiful town– look at that door!
Breakfast at Hotel Teatrisso La Rioja boutique hotels
Delicious breakfasts at the hotel.
Cuzcurrita del Río Tirón, La Rioja
Town church.

What we did in La Rioja

We began our stay with a wine tour with Taste Rioja, where owner Jenny introduced us to the history of the region and took us on a tour of three different bodegas. When I heard we were starting at Campo Viejo, one of Spain’s largest bodegas, I felt a pang of disappointment– but I was totally impressed by the excellent tour of the bodega and its incredible barrel room, home to 70,000 barrels.

Best bodegas in La Rioja
The Campo Viejo winery is truly incredible– both for architecture and sheer volume!
Best bodegas in La Rioja; Campo Viejo tour La Rioja; wine tours in La Rioja
Inside the machine!
Best bodegas in La Rioja; Campo Viejo tour La Rioja; wine tours in La Rioja
Excuse the blurry photo, but here’s the insane bottle room at the Campo Viejo Winery!
Best bodegas in La Rioja; Campo Viejo tour La Rioja; wine tours in La Rioja; barrel room
The enormous barrel room at Campo Viejo.
Best bodegas in La Rioja; Campo Viejo tour La Rioja; wine tours in La Rioja
A sea of barrels!
Best bodegas in La Rioja; Campo Viejo tour La Rioja; wine tours in La Rioja; wine tastings in La Rioja
Tasting at Campo Viejo

Later in the day, we visited the medium-sized Baigorri where Jenny herself used to work. Since the harvest was in full effect, we watched the wine being made before our very eyes and then had a gourmet lunch on site.

The gorgeous view from Baigorri in La Rioja! La Rioja wine tours
The gorgeous view from Baigorri in La Rioja!
Wine tours in La Rioja; 3 days in La Rioja
Jenny gave us her expert tour!
Harvest tour in Baigorri in La Rioja
Seeing the harvest was fantastic!
La Rioja wine tours
Large fermentation tanks in Baigorri.
Wines at Baigorri
Delicious lunch with wine pairings.
Salmon; menu at Baigorri winery, La rioja wine tours
One of the delicious appetizers in Baigorri
Baigorri tasting menu; La Rioja wine tours
Another delicious course at our gourmet lunch.

We finished with a visit to La Guardia, located in a part of La Rioja called Rioja Alavesa that is part of the Basque Country. This tiny medieval walled town is home to countless former bodegas (wine cellars), all connected by underground caves. We visited one of the remaining bodegas (Bodegas Carlos San Pedro Perez de Vinaspre) and spent some time in the caves– quite the experience!

Visiting La Rioja in 3 Days; La Guardia
An X-ray of La Guardia– shows all of the underground bodegas! Incredible!
Wine Tasting in La Guardia La Rioja
An underground tasting at Bodegas Carlos San Pedro Perez de Vinaspre
Wine tours in La Rioja
Tasting the bodega’s delicious wines.
La Guardia La Rioja
La Guardia’s gorgeous town center.
La Guardia La Rioja Tour
Beautiful views from La Guardia– look close to find our next stop!

When Jenny heard I’d always wanted to see the Ysios bodega (I love the architecture) she made a special stop just for me! We didn’t take a tour there, but did have a look around the property and took plenty of great photos. Well worth a quick stop in my opinion!

The impressive Ysios Bodega in La Rioja.
The impressive Ysios Bodega in La Rioja.
Bodega Ysios; Best bodegas in La Rioja
Aren’t grapes the prettiest?!
Ysios Bodega la Rioja best bodegas
A walk through the vineyards.
Ysios la Rioja bodegas
So cool.
Ysios bodega La Rioja
A great mini visit.

Food in La Rioja

The menu at every restaurant we visited in La Rioja was identical– lamb chops, artichokes, roasted peppers… But luckily the restaurant near Hotel Teatrisso, Asador Aker, was delicious. The family who owned it was also lovely– get the lamb chops, they’re some of the best I ever had!

Lamb chops, typical food in La Rioja
Delicious lamb chops are a local specialty.
Delicious stew in La Rioja; typical food in La Rioja
The local bean stew from La Rioja

Haro

Next time I visit La Rioja, I would love to stay in Haro. Home to seemingly countless bodegas, all within walking distance of each other– I don’t know how more people don’t go here! It is seriously a wine lover’s dream come true! We visited the tasting rooms at Bodegas Muga, Bodegas Roda, and Bodegas R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, each was fantastic in its own way.

Bodegas Muga La Rioja's best bodegas
Muga has a great tasting room– next time we’ll definitely take the tour too!
Viña Tondonia La Rioja; 3 days in La Rioja
I LOVED Viña Tondonia!
Viña Tondonia La Rioja wine tasting
The perfect picnic
visit La Rioja for 3 days, best bodegas
Old meets new at Viña Tondonia.
Roda La Rioja winery visit
Roda was also awesome– and all within walking distance!
Roda winery in La Rioja
The amazing tasting room at Roda.

Vivanco Wine Museum

On our last day, we spent the morning at the formidable Vivanco Wine Museum. An incredible property and building, this museum is known as one of the best wine museums in the world and I personally loved it.

Vivanco Wine Museum La Rioja
This is not a painting! What views from Vivanco!
Vivanco Wine Museum in La Rioja
There’s so much to see at this museum– 4 hours minimum!
Vivanco Wine Museum in La Rioja
Vivanco’s wine press room.
Vivanco Wine Museum in La Rioja
The biggest collection of corkscrews!

Boasting four floors, one of my favorite exhibitions was about the art of barrel making. This is a museum you could spend HOURS in– so plan accordingly!

Vivanco Wine Museum in La Rioja
Vivanco and the village of Briones.

Afterward, we looked around the adjoining village of Briones and at lunch at Los Cuatro Arcos. Then it was off to Madrid, the car heavy with wine! While 3 days in La Rioja was amazing– we’re already craving another trip!

Have you been to La Rioja? What should I put on my list for next time?

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