In a region with over 500 wineries, finding the right La Rioja Bodega for you is no easy feat. Luckily, we've worked tirelessly to gather this list of the best spots in Spain. Buckle your seatbelt, grab a designated driver and enjoy this travel guide to the best bodegas in La Rioja.
Where are the best bodegas in La Rioja?
Ask any local for their favourite La Rioja bodega and you’ll be met with a furrowed brow. Pain etched across their face.
At best, they’ll laugh.
“Just one? I couldn’t tell you! Top three? No, I couldn’t possibly say!”
It’s like asking a parent to pick their favourite child or a travel blogger to pick their favourite destination.
You'll find more than 500 bodegas in the Spanish region of La Rioja. Choosing a favourite is an almost impossible task.
La Rioja is proud of its roots (they’re attached to vines, after all). And they’re steeped in history. Generations upon generations of people dedicated their lives to nurturing wine on this earth, aiming for nothing less than being the best in the world.
But the great thing about wine is that it loosens inhibitions. And so, after a little encouragement (and a few glasses of the good stuff,) some shared their inside knowledge with me.
They dared to reveal a few favourites.
Paired with my on the ground research (research, I tell you!) here's a round up of some of the best bodegas in La Rioja.
Disclosure: This visit to La Rioja was part of a #VisitLaRioja project in partnership with the La Rioja tourism board and Visit Spain. This post may also contain affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you book or buy through this article. This doesn't cost you anything and we only recommend the good stuff. Ta!
7 La Rioja Bodegas Not To Miss
CVNE: The Wine Cemetery
For affordable wine, an affordable tour and the chance to see a wine cemetery head to CVNE.
Find preserved bottles of wine covered in mould, see huge vats of the good stuff, and hear about what makes their wine special.
Of course, as with any worthwhile visit, you’ll get to sample some of the top sellers.
Allow a few hours for this experience. Tours and tastings start from €15.
Don’t rule a visit out if you have children. Many of the bodegas, including CVNE, offer workshops to entertain little ones.
Recommended reading: This La Rioja Itinerary is Exactly What You Need
Bodegas Corral: Ruins and History
Head here for award-winning wines, history and a beautiful estate.
A section of the Camino passes through the stunning Bodegas Corral vineyards and it’s here that the San Juan de Acre Pilgrim Hospital ruins can be found.
Over 100 years of experience, knowledge and history recently led to two of Bodegas Corral’s wines winning awards at one of the most prestigious international competitions in the wine world. Try The Altos de Corral Reserva 2010, which was awarded ‘Best Spanish Red Wine’, and Don Jacob Gran Reserva 2004, which scooped ‘Best Rioja Gran Reserva’.
Choose from various vineyard tours, including options to ride on horseback.
What does the word bodega mean?
What is a bodega?
In Spain, a bodega is essentially a wine producer. The word can apply to a production line, wine shop, cellar, vineyard or warehouse.
Put simply, there are small producers and big ones. The smaller bodegas usually focus on heritage with vineyards that have been in the family for many years.
In contrast, bigger and more commercialised bodegas can make around 10million bottles per year. The focus is on consistency; making a bottle of wine that’s instantly recognisable and that the buyer can trust.
Digging deeper, the word bodega derives from the Latin apothēca, or apothecary. Magic, healing potion indeed!
Vivanco: the wine museum
Vivanco comes up time and again with locals.
Listed as one of the top five wine museums in the world, here you can taste wine, learn about how it’s made and see the vineyards and cellars in action.
More than that, though, you can time travel to see corkscrews through the ages and from around the world. Bottles from past eras. Art influenced by wine and so on. Everything you want to know about wine is here. It’s where the past and present are one.
You can choose to wander through this modern, interactive 9,000m2 site on your own or enlist the help of a tour guide. Entry is from €15.
Enjoy dishes cooked with wine in the beautiful onsite restaurant that looks out to the vineyards and the Sierra de Cantabria.
Finca de los Arandinos : Sitting Pretty
This contemporary winery offers the prettiest barrels. Visit this one if you like chic, stylish design.
The vineyards scatter themselves around the town of Entrena. However, the grapes from the family vineyards are pressed in the cellar and then stored and bottled.
It would be criminal not to tie your visit to Finca de los Arandinos with a stay…and a trip to the spa and restaurant.
Recommended reading: Joining the Olive Oil Harvest in Spain
Bodegas Tritium: Hipster Winery
Bodegas Tritium offers ample opportunities to get that Instagram shot. This hipster spot is more than just looks though.
Sip artisan wine made by Javier Fernandez, Francisco Rubio and Alejandro Campo, who have made viticulture and oenology their life’s project. Tours start from €20.
Bodegas Muga: Segway Tours
Looking for something quirkier? Bodegas Muga, offers affordable classic tours, as well as segway tours of the vineyards, with a picnic and tastings.
This family-owned winery honours traditional winemaking methods and seeks to offer premium wines. Head here to see the only cellar in Spain with a master cooper and three in-house barrel-makers.
Recommended reading: San Sebastian Hipster Things to Do in Spain’s Basque Country
Bodegas Franco-Españolas: Local Favourite
José, our wine guide, let slip that this is one of his favourites. The first centenary of the winery was celebrated in 1990 and since then it’s continued to flourish.
Its privileged location, on the banks of the Ebro River, has made Bodegas Franco-Españolas a witness to the history of Logroño.
Wine tours range from €14 – €42. Make sure you try a glass of the award-winning Bordón Reserva.
Most locals have two or three wine holders for when they're out and about. Taken to football games and special events, the containers are akin to a hip flask. Here though, it’s traditional for them to be made of goat or lamb skin.
In Logroño you’ll find a 5th generation craftsman and his little shop, Botas Rioja, offering a huge collection of them. It’s one of the last few in Spain.
Special Wine Events
in La Rioja
Wine Tastings at a Castle
On 18 May 2020, visit the castle of San Vicente de la Sonsierra for a day of wine in a beautiful setting. Enjoy tastings from eight different wineries, visit the cellar and meet with experts in the field. If you can’t make this date keep an eye on their website for other exciting events.
Horse-Drawn Carriages Through Vineyards
Equestrian Wine Tourism offer the chance to relax in a horse-drawn carriage through picturesque vineyards. You can also add a visit to a winery and/or tastings. Availability varies throughout the year depending on the seasons.
Check out the Catarte Facebook page for the latest wine-pairing events in Logroño. Featuring wines from the region, local gourmet food and artists, it’s a feast for the senses.
The Pinchos and Wine Route in La Rioja
Calle Laurel in Logroño is a famous, walkable route of nearly 80 different bars. Often called 'Path of the Elephants', the tale says those who tried to drink a wine in each bar ended with a good trunk!
It’s fun and a sociable part of local life. Each bar specialises in a particular pinchos, so pop in for a small bite to eat and a glass of wine before heading to the next one.
Wandering what pinchos is? It’s essentially a small bite to eat served on a piece of bread.
- Bar Angel for their hugely popular mushrooms in a secret white wine sauce.
- Bar Sebas for their simple, but incredibly delicious, potato tortilla.
- Bar El Muro for the meatballs
- Taberna de Correos for their mountain of tempura vegetables and aioli sauce.
Your Guide to Wine Tasting
You don’t need to be a wine expert to go wine tasting. In fact, I think it’s an advantage if you don’t know much about wine!
The guides and hosts are so passionate about what they do. And each bodegas has its own story. Its own speciality wine. Let them enlighten and educate you.
Tips for Wine Tasting in La Rioja
- Arrive with space in your case. Most bodegas offer the chance to buy their wine and many have great deals for visitors.
- Book a taxi. Now is not the time to limit yourself to one small glass.
- Try to visit at least one heritage bodega and one modern one. That way you’ll enjoy a lovely contrast.
- Lose your inhibitions. Don’t worry about looking silly when you swirl and spit, or guess the notes incorrectly. Follow your guide’s lead and have fun with it.
- Most hosts speak excellent English and are very knowledgeable. Got a question? Ask them – they’ll love you for it!
The Wine Educator
Keen to learn and explore, but feeling a bit daunted? Consider some help from The Wine Educator. José can take you on a tour of some of his favourites, order the drinks and blow your mind with his knowledge - all with a big smile on his face.
All in all, La Rioja is the place to go if you enjoy wine. There are so many different types to try and places to visit. You really can't go wrong.
And no, I'm not telling you my favourites...though I may say otherwise after a drink or two ;)
How to Get to La Rioja
Fly direct from London Gatwick to Bilbao via British Airways or Vueling, or fly from London Stansted via easyJet. Use Skyscanner to find the best fit for your flights to Bilbao here.
Whilst there are other flights from the UK they’re indirect, so not really worth the hassle.
The flight is just under two hours. From Bilbao, it’s a one-hour drive to La Rioja.
I’d definitely recommend either hiring a car for your trip or booking a taxi, as it’s the fastest way to travel in the region. Check prices and availability to rent a car with Hertz at Bilbao Airport here.
Expect to pay around £90 for a taxi transfer. You can rent a car from as little as £14 per day (depending on when you travel, of course).
Alternatively, you can catch a train from Bilbao to Haro. It should take just under two hours and cost you around £12.
You can also go by bus, from Bilbao to Zambrana to Haro. Allow up to three hours and expect to pay around the same price.