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Winery Tour of Northern Spain

June 19 – July 2, 2012

By Theresa Beaver
A map of Spain with a region in the the north circled

This Spain Winery Tour was put on by the Escuela De Internacional Cocina (International Culinary School) of Valladolid, Spain, in collaboration with South Seattle Community College. As Program Coordinator for the WSU Viticulture and Enology Certificate, I was invited by the culinary school to attend the tour with the idea to plan a future tour for WSU.  It was an amazing tour! The wine industry there is a wonderful blend of old traditions and new techniques of wine making.  It was also an immersion into the culture and food of Spain. This is definitely a trip that WSU will want to offer.

We began our tour in beautiful Barcelona and traveled across northern Spain to visit the wine regions of of Penedes, Priorat, Montsant, Campo de Borja, Navarra, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Reuda, and Toro.  The wineries we saw ranged in size from Quinola, which refers to itself as a ‘garagewine’, to Arinzano, a large, impressive winery that is featured in the book Luxury Wine Estates’.

In addition to the rich red wines of Spain, I enjoyed learning about and tasting a variety of Spanish white wines made from varities such as Verdejo, Godello and Albarino grapes. Spain’s sparkling wine, Cava, was another special treat for me. Many Cava producers still craft this wine by hand-riddling and hand-degorging each bottle. The hand-degorging is an art that has been passed down through generations.

The most fascinating part of this tour for me was the widespread use of caves for wine production and storage. Some of the caves were centuries old and originally used in times of war, while others were created specifically for wine production. Many of the caves are so extensive that areas have been converted into restaurants where we enjoyed leisurely, multi-course meals.

Touring these wineries of Northern Spain was truly a memorable trip for me. Following are pictures from the wineries, photos of the wonderful food we enjoyed, the landscapes we traversed, and some of the rich cultural heritage and experiences this wonderful area has to offer. I hope many of you will be inspired to join us for a future trip to this remarkable region. Salud!

[Click on any of these photos for larger images and use back-arrow to return to gallery.]