Although wine tourism is much more than visiting a bodega, a majority of wine-related trips in Spain include the traditional tour and wine tasting. According to a report by the Spanish Association of Wine Cities (ACEVIN), with 27 wine destinations and 600 producers across the country, wineries welcomed 2,714,409 visitors in 2016, a 21% increase of the past year.
Based on ACEVIN data, the leading destinations for wine lovers are the Sherry Triangle Wine & Brandy Route (501,783 visitors) followed by Enoturisme Penedès (486,388 visitantes). Together with Rioja, they lead the way in terms of offering alternative activities to the usual tour and wine tasting.
The Sherry Triangle Wine & Brandy Route organizes activities involving gastronomy, nature, culture, romance and flamenco. Some of these experiences are also suitable to do with children such as Sherry and Horses, which includes a guided tour of Bodega Sandeman and the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art (€35 per person), or the Doñana 4x4 Adventure crossing the Guadalquivir river to tour the National Park onboard an off-road bus plus a tour of Barbadillo and a delicious menu paired with sherry wines at Taberna der Guerrita (€76).
For international visitors, the Route also has an Spanish course focused on sherry which includes tastings and tours of the vineyards and four bodegas in Jerez: González Byass, Díez Mérito, Luis Pérez and Tradición, which houses a splendid art gallery (€220).
Enoturisme Penedès suggests 15 ideas for the summer nights in Penedès with a set of inviting plans such as art, cava and astronomy in the Garraf Park (€30), a nocturnal hike on the Sant Pau mountain in the vicinity of Sant Sadurní del Penedès (free), and even a night tour of Bodega Nadal followed by a “wild party” among the vines with DJ, three Cava bars and cocktails (€15).
Still in Catalonia, La Carretera del Vi (The Wine Road) is a fun way to link wine and cultural heritage. It is an old commercial route, used since Roman times, connecting the vineyards in Penedès with the Garraf beaches. Along these 40km, visitors can stop by at 13 bodegas plus a couple of museums, archeological remains, modernist buildings, castles, restaurants, wine bars and accommodations. To follow the route easily, travelers can download a mobile app with all the information plus a passport (€3) offering discounts in the wineries along the route. For the time being, la Carretera del Vi is only suitable for cars but there are plans underway to adapt it for bikes and walkers.
The northwest also has some interesting wine activities during the summer. A Emoción dos Viños is an annual wine fest that is held over a weekend in the early part of the summer in the cloister of Tui’s cathedral (this year the event moved to Celanova, in the province of Ourense). Around 80 small producers, mostly from Galicia and Portugal, pour their wines in a relaxed and uncrowded atmosphere.
Sommelier Sonia Molero, from Uvepositivo, along with Cadenote Yacht organize an original activity that combines sea, scenery, wines and food. On board a sailing boat that departs from the port of Sada (A Coruña) to the coves of Redes and Lorbé, wine lovers enjoy an hour of sailing in the Atlantic Ocean taking part in raising the sails and other simple tasks before anchoring in the cove and enjoy a tasting of wines made by small producers such as Rodrigo Méndez, Alberto Nanclares, Xurxo Alba or Raúl Pérez among others. The tasting is ably led by Sonia, an expert and lover of Galician wines and other wine regions.
The tasting with Tritan glasses, a “fine but unbreakable material”, is followed by a meal with dishes made by local providers such as Spanish omelette, pork shoulder, scallops pie or lardeira, a typical dessert in the region. After the meal there is time for a swim before returning back to port. “The activity lasts for four hours officially, but we usually stay longer because the atmosphere is very relaxed”, explains Sonia, who is happy to tailor the tasting for groups of eight people.
Dates: 21 and 28 July (17:30-21:30) and 8 and 12 August (11:00 to 15:00)
Price: €90 per person
Further information and bookings on +34 981 619100 or on Cadenote Yacht facebook page.
Further inland, the Sil River Canyon in Ribeira Sacra offers one of the most spectacular and beautiful landscapes in Galicia. There, from the Doade jetty, Bodega Algueira organizes trips on board its boat Brandán to admire the steep ravines with terraced vines plummeting down towards the river which exemplify the region’s heroic viticulture.
To wrap up the day, Algueira offers a tour of the winery and a lunch at its restaurant O Castelo. If you fancy a bit of hiking around this spectacular setting, there are a couple of routes from the cellar to Pena do Castelo and Souto de Valguaire looks with awesome views of the river.
Dates: everyday at 11:00, 12:30, 17:00 and 18:30
Price: €15 (Children €7) for the boat trip and a tasting of their white Brandán. €45 with a tour of the winery and lunch (€25 for children)
Further information and bookings on +34 982 410299
At the Granja Nuestra Señora de Remelluri in Labastida (Rioja Alavesa) a necropolis in the estate reveals the existence of a 10th century settlement. This open air spot, along with the old lagar carved in the rock —probably one of the oldest wine remains in Rioja— and the vineyards are the setting for the three hikes (30, 60 or 90 minutes) that can be enjoyed in this enchanting place at the foothills of Sierra Cantabria.
The three routes are free and self-guided —maps are available at the cellar— and start at the courtyard of the bodega, next to the fountain that brings water from a spring on Mount Toloño, and go past the shrine of Santa Sabina and the vineyards that lie at different altitude levels and command spectacular views of the estate and the area around Labastida.
As well as hiking, Remelluri schedules 45-minute guided tours visiting the vineyards, the shrine and the cellar ending with a tasting of two wines.
Price: Hiking routes are free. Check with the winery for tours and tastings
Valenciso, a small producer in Ollauri, a short drive from Haro in Rioja Alta, prepares an interesting programme for winelovers. From early summer right till October, the traditional harvest month, Luis Valentín and Carmen Enciso host activities such as yoga in the vineyards, cooking lessons at 1-Michelin star restaurant Echaurren, a bonsai workshop and a charity concert at the cellar.
Price: between €15 and €25
Further information and bookings on +34 941 304724
Rioja Uncovered is the name of the tour organized by Rioja Wine Trips, specialized in discovering the wine and cultural heritage of Spain’s most famous region to foreign visitors. “We visit villages that are not on guide books, off the beaten track places with no tourists on sight.
These villages retain the essence of Rioja and Rioja Alavesa and feel as if time had stood still”, explains Inma Bezunartea, one of the co-owners of Rioja Wine Trips, who also organizes bespoke tours. After the guided outdoor activity, Inma takes her clients to a winery where they can sample old vintages from the bodega’s private collection, a rare experience for non wine trade professionals.
Price: €195 per person, from 10:00 to 18:00
Further information and bookings on +34 652 726 119
In the Balearic Islands, most of the wine tourism is focused on visiting bodegas. An alternative plan by local agency Mallorca Wine Tours includes a daily urban experience in the old quarter of Palma, visiting wine shops, bars, restaurants and libraries within the city walls. The activity is held daily in the summer, lasts four hours and includes a tasting of 8-10 wines from Majorca paired with tapas served in four different locales.
Further information and bookings on +34 653 528659