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Spain Winery and Vineyard Tour, April, 2016

This year’s Winery and Vineyard tour was especially unique because we partnered with the Escuela De Internacional Cocina of Valladolid, Spain, to arrange the itinerary. This international culinary school has been putting on winery tours for 10 years and they not only set us up with an impressive group of wineries to visit, but, with their culinary connections to some of the country’s best chefs, we also were treated to some of the best food that Spain has to offer. This partnership made it truly an amazing tour!

Beautiful Barcelona was the perfect city to begin our tour, and we spent two days and nights traveling from there on day trips to nearby regions and then returning to the city for evening meals and walks along the Ramblas. Then we left the city behind and began our trip west across the countryside, passing through a wide range of geography, including gravelly slopes, rolling hills, and expansive plains.

Our trip covered the wine regions of of Penedes, Priorat, Montsant, Campo de Borja, Navarra, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Reuda, and Toro, where we visited 15 wineries, three appellation councils, a barrel producer, and enjoyed the local village offerings, including medieval castles and cathedrals.

Perhaps the most well-known wine region is Spain, Rioja, is also the oldest Designation of Origen (D.O.), established in 1925. Here we visited Bodegas Roda, a high-tech, multi-million dollar facility that, in its own words, strives ‘to be recognised as producers of one of the greatest wines in the world.  It is large and impressive and well on its way to achieving that goal.  In contrast, we also visited Juan Carlos Sancha winery, a small producer.  Juan, the winemaker/owner, is a professor of enology at the University of Rioja. He was very excited to visit with us and invited us to climb the slopes of his vineyard to view his 106 year old vines.  Afterwards, barrel tasted several wines and enjoyed hearing more about his passion to restore old varieties to Spain.

Survey reactions from our diverse group of 22 people (from Washington state to as far away as Boston) let us know that the tour achieved its educational goal. Participants return home with the invaluable experience of “walking the vineyards, touring a winery, and speaking directly with the winemaker(s)…’.

Another expressed it this way – “I continue to be impressed by the unique qualities of the many wineries we have visited. So many wine makers approach the process with varying perspectives. It is actually a bit reassuring to understand that there are many paths that lead to making good wine.”

There is always so much more to tell about amazing trips like this one, but let the photos below finish the story by visually conveying the experience.