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Wine tourism has become quite popular over the last several years and Rioja Alavesa is certainly one of the top destinations for both national and international visitors given its stunning landscapes, Medieval towns and offering of hundred-year old and avant-garde wineries making some of the best wines in the world.
Rioja Alavesa offers visitors not only the opportunity to learn first-hand about the winemaking process and wine tasting, but also to enjoy a wide variety of activities and experiences showcasing the region's beauty, famed cuisine and local culture.
What is wine tourism and why Rioja Alavesa?
Wine tourism is a form of tourism combining interest in wine with traditional tourism. It consists of visiting wineries, wandering through vineyards, touring other facilities associated with winemaking and taking part in activities like tastings, pairings and oenology events.
Wine tourism offers travellers the opportunity to learn about the history, tradition and process of winemaking, while enjoying picturesque landscapes and immersing themselves in the local culture. Rioja Alavesa is becoming one of the most appealing wine tourism destinations for a number of reasons:
Winegrowing history and tradition
Rioja Alavesa has long been making high-quality wines. Its vineyards and wineries date back centuries and the region is included in the DOC Rioja Designation of Origin, the top class of Spanish wines. DOC Rioja is one of the most prestigious designations of origin in the world.
Landscape and natural environment
Rioja Alavesa’s landscapes are breath-taking, with sprawling vineyards stretching out into the horizon through hillocks and small valleys along the Ebro river and the ridges of the Sierra de Cantabria mountains at over 1,400 metres tall.
The Mediterranean climate and combination of clay and calcareous soil create the perfect conditions for growing high-quality grapes. The region is also quite biodiverse with a number of natural spaces to explore.
Renowned wineries and vineyards
Rioja Alavesa is home to some of the most prestigious wineries and vineyards in the world. Many of these wineries are open to the public and offer guided tours so that visitors can check out their facilities, learn about winemaking methods and taste a wide variety of wines.
These more traditional activities are now being rounded out with experiences like enjoying lunch or dinner among the vines, riding through the vineyards on electric bikes, spending a day as a harvester and stargazing among the vines while savouring a great wine. There are so many options.
Charming Medieval towns
You cannot visit Rioja Alavesa without meandering through its charming Medieval towns. They have a rich heritage as well as exciting culinary and shopping options.
Laguardia, the capital of the region, has notably kept intact its Medieval framework, walls and gates; Elciego is known for its manor homes and the unforgettable silhouette of Marqués de Riscal’s City of Wine, a project by Frank Gehry; Labastida has a carefully preserved old quarter and stone winepresses; the small walled towns of Labraza y Salinillas de Buradón; Villabuena de Álava, the town with the most wineries per capita in the world... Need we say more?
Wine activities and experiences in Rioja Alavesa
When it comes to wine tourism, Rioja Alavesa offers a wide array of activities and experiences for all tastes. Here are some of the highlights:
Vineyard routes and hiking
Exploring the vineyards on foot or by bike is a great way to immerse yourself in Rioja Alavesa. There are a number of marked routes allowing visitors to discover the region's natural beauty while learning about winegrowing and enjoying panoramic views. These routes have varying levels of difficulty, meaning there's one for everyone.
Cuisine and wine pairings
Cuisine plays an outsize role in wine tourism in Rioja Alavesa. The region has a strong culinary culture, and many restaurants offer menus pairing local dishes with wines from the area. Pairing is a unique experience that highlights the flavours and qualities of both the wine and the food.
There are also workshops and courses where visitors can learn about pairing food and wine.
The combination of a rich winegrowing tradition, stunning landscapes, unforgettable experiences and delicious cuisine make this region an unparalleled destination.
If you love road or mountain biking, Álava is the perfect destination to ride around while exploring its remarkable sites and landscapes. It’s got a network of roads, paths and trails allowing you to enjoy this sport surrounded by nature. Here are a few ideas:
Basque-Navarre Railway Green Route
This route follows the historic Basque-Navarre railway, which ran through Álava from the early 19th century until 1967. With a total of 123.5 kilometres, this route will allow you to enjoy the history and nature of the region's villages at a relaxed pace.
It connects Estella (Navarre) and Bergara (Gipuzkoa), though the majority of the path runs through Álava, giving visitors access to Romanesque gems like Estíbaliz Sanctuary. It also delves into nature including spaces like Landa provincial park with its blue flag beach and passes through Medieval villages like Antoñana and Campezo.
Rioja Alavesa Lagoons
One of the best ways to explore one of the largest wetlands in Rioja Alavesa is by bike. We’re referring to Laguardia Lagoons, home to many species of birds.
Our proposed route is simple and easy for anyone who loves their bike: this 11.5 kilometre route leading to the protected Laguardia Lagoon Complex biotope comprising the lagoons Carralogroño, Carravalseca, Musco and Prao de la Paul pond.
Also, if you love wine, you’ve got to stop at one of the wineries in Rioja Alavesa for some wine tourism.
Vitoria Green Way
If you’re looking for a relaxing, easy bike route in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the circular Green Way is perfect for you. This 30 kilometre-long route is suitable for riding individually, with kids or with friends.
One of the advantages of the Green Way route is that you can start at any point and it offers an easy, well-marked route that will allow you to take in the beautiful nature surrounding the capital of Álava: Armentia forest, Salburua wetlands, Zadorra riverbank, and much more.
This is all rounded out with information centres like Ataria, lookout points for birdwatching, exhibition spaces and more.
Álava has many routes to help you discover and rediscover this region in fun, remarkable ways. Tune up your bike and hop on one of these routes with us!
Se acercan los momentos más divertidos del año donde por un día puedes convertirte en tu personaje favorito. Las caretas, los disfraces y las carrozas inundan los pueblos y ciudades de diversión durante un fin de semana.
En Álava existen diferentes tradiciones para estas fechas, pero si quieres vivir los carnavales más especiales, la mejor opción es disfrutar de sus carnavales rurales. Kuartango, Andoin, Salcedo, Agurain, Zalduondo, Ilarduia, Campezo y Egino son algunas localidades con esta gran tradición carnavalera.
Comenzó antes de la Guerra Civil, cuando la mayoría de los pueblos alaveses gozaban de un festejo que ponía música y colorido a sus vidas durante unos días. Un espectáculo que no era para ser contemplado, sino vivido.
Vestimenta carnaval rural
Los jóvenes de la época utilizaban prendas que encontraban en los desvanes o las cabañas. Vestían con ropa vieja, sacos o pieles y portaban gorros de paja o de lana en la cabeza. Que no se les reconociese era fundamental, por lo que cubrían su rostro con máscaras, medias, cintas e incluso con pinturas.
Era común que llevasen diversos instrumentos con los que producir un fuerte ruido: carracas, matracas, almireces o cascabeles que iban acompañados de “irrintzis” u otros gritos. En cuanto a la vestimenta de los disfraces, a los jóvenes les gustaba imitar los diversos oficios de su entorno por lo que abundaban los disfraces de pastor, herrero o barrendero.
Personajes carnaval rural
En estos carnavales rurales personajes como el Porrero, Toribio, la Sorgiña o Markitos son los protagonistas. También vemos a otros personajes habituales como la vieja, protagonista de la fiesta a la que se le quemaba; el oso que aún se conserva en Kuartango y Zalduondo; o jóvenes disfrazados de bueyes arrastrando carros.
¡No dejes que te lo cuenten y ven a vivir los carnavales más especiales en Álava!