Nov 08 2017

Wine Tourism in Spain: 5 Unconventional Proposals

We all know what it means to visit a winery: enjoying the landscape of vineyards, touring every corner of its installations learning about the wine making process, and rounding off the experience with a guided tasting of its wines. This might be compounded by a meal at a local restaurant or even a night's stay in one of the charming hotels in the vicinity of the winery (or even inside it). And while all of this sounds lovely, what about daring to try something a little less conventional? The following are just a few ideas for a different type of wine tourism. Cheers!

Text: Rodrigo García Fernández / @ICEX

Wine Tourism in Spain.

1. Running through vines

All runners say the same thing (and I agree): the best way to get to know a city is by going for a run through its streets and parks. So why don't we apply this same concept to wine tourism? Three ideas: take in the rolling hills of Penedès with Enorunning, a new idea that combines exercise with wine culture and the wine landscapes of the vineyards of Vilafranca del Penedès. Or, if you're passionate about Ribera del Duero wines, then you can't help but love the Ribera Run Race. And if your preferred distance is the half marathon, then your date is in late October in Rioja Alavesa. There you will compete to win a race that starts and ends in Samaniego, and that will take you through beautiful, recently harvested vineyards to the towns of Leza, Navaridas, Elciego and Villabuena.

2. Crusoe Treasure: a winery under the sea

This is an experience that you'll only get in Spain, and specifically in the depths of the Bay of Plentzia in Vizcaya (Basque Country) thanks to the company Crusoe Treasure. In this case it brings together two passions: that of wine and scuba diving. So we put on our wet suits, pick up the oxygen cylinder and regulator, and take a dive in this bay in the company of a guide, who will take us to one of the most unique wineries in the world where two wines made from native grape varieties from DOCa Rioja are aged under the sea. Back on land, you will be greeted by a cheering wine tasting.

3. Looking for treasure among the vines

Is there anything that kids like more than looking for treasure? Well, now there's a plan that combines vineyards, scavenger hunts and orientation games. To find it, we must travel to inland Tarragona (Catalonia), to Estol Verd Celler winery. From here, we can choose one of three possible routes that are guided by an app, a series of clues that we'll find along the way and our sense of direction, all in search of the treasure: bottles of wine that we will get the opportunity to savor in reward for our efforts. Sounds tempting, doesn't it?

4. The Fine Arts and wine, an elegant harmony

How would you like to take in the world's finest collection of wine-themed art? Of course you would. Therefore, your next stop is the Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture, in Briones (La Rioja). But we would also recommend another jewel for those who can't help but get emotional when beholding a great work of art: at Bodegas Tradición (Jerez de la Frontera, Andalusia), visitors can enjoy a selection of work from the art collection of Joaquín Rivero, featuring the best of Spanish painting from the 15th to 19th centuries (works by Zurbarán, Velázquez, Goya, Villamil, Zuloaga, etc. included). This stunning visit concludes with a tasting of other jewels from this historic winery: its fantastic sherry wines, which are classified as VOS (Very Old Sherry) and VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry).

5. Vineyards from the air

Flight has always been a human aspiration. Getting a bird's eye view of a pastoral landscape of vines is now possible, thanks to a variety of different initiatives. Bodegas Muga in La Rioja organizes hot air balloon rides that provide a different perspective of the landscapes of this famous wine region. Cava winery Vilarnau offers the possibility of taking a helicopter from Barcelona, flying over the vineyards, landing at the winery and then, after the winery visit, returning to Barcelona. Or, are you ready for your first ride in a light aircraft? Get in touch with Pago de Tharsys in DO Utiel-Requena. They'll organize it for you.

The wine tourism industry has gotten more and more professional in Spain over the past few years, and testament to this is the wide range of activities offered by wineries and the ACEVIN-certified wine routes. Additionally, there are now numerous professional tour agencies specializing in food and wine, which lend their services to tourists and visitors from all over the world: A Taste of SpainTenedor Tours, Devour Tours, Where is AsturiasCellar ToursAborigens Barcelona and Spain Food Sherpas are just some of them.