Haro - Rioja Country

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March 27th 2011
Published: April 17th 2011
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Salamanca to Haro

Sunday March 6th 2011

We awoke with frost on the windscreen and said our goodbyes to Bill and Sue. As we took the long drive across Spain to Burgos, we saw a few hardy pilgrims making their way across the route to Santiago di Compostella. Pilgrimages had been part of the boys’ curriculum, having discussed the Hajj and the Canterbury Tales, as well as this particular route, so it was great to see it come to life. The peaks along the way were snow-covered and picturesque and were enough of an inspiration to us to seriously consider tackling part of the pilgrimage route ourselves in the future.

When we arrived at Burgos, the campsite restaurant was full to brimming with local Spanish people who, due to the site’s proximity to the park and woodland use the facilities for sociable family get-togethers. I couldn’t resist the draw of the tapas, so hurriedly ordered myself some lunch whilst the rest of the family preferred a sandwich back in the van. After lunch we walked through the woodland and spent some time on the artificial beach and play park areas before heading back to the van to make plans for the next weeks’ travel.

Monday March 7th 2011

Max and I had been looking forward to today’s drive for some time, as it was to take us to Haro, deep in the heart of Rioja country – a particular favourite of ours. Arriving before lunch, we had plenty of time to book a wine tasting trip for the next morning and take a walk into the town for a quick look around. Like in most Spanish towns in the early afternoon, most of the shops were shut which forced us (oh yeah) into a pub for an hour to wait for the place to come alive again. We soon discovered why the town looked so empty – everyone was in the bar. Max went up to the bar and asked for a glass of red Rioja. She was met with a somewhat puzzled look from the barman who swept his arm across two shelves full of different Rioja red wines and asked her to be a little more specific !

On leaving the bar we looked into the various wine shops and bought a couple of really nice old bottles to savour at our leisure. Our only regret was that only the weekend before, a Rioja wine festival had taken place, and we had missed it. Not to be completely outdone, I liberated a poster of the event from a noticeboard. It should look great framed up in our dining room when we get home.

Tuesday March 8th 2011

The wine tasting and tour at the Muga winery in Haro was scheduled for 10am so we were up earlier than usual and out, wondering whether we were actually going to be able to stomach the tasting part so early in the morning. The tour was conducted by a bubbly Spanish lady who was obviously very proud of the winery and of the wine. It was the most extensive tour we had ever undertaken as it was very much a working establishment. Theirs was the only winery in the whole of Spain with its own dedicated cooperage and whilst we were there we saw the master cooper passing on his skills to his son, his apprentice. We also were able to watch the process of decanting wines ( racking ) from barrel to barrel, in order to remove the sediment. We were even allowed to taste the wine that was being transferred so that we could taste the difference between this wine, which was not yet fully matured, and the finished article. The guide explained that they only bottle the wine when they have an order, so we were pleased to see the bottling and packaging area in full flow for an order bound for France ( Who says the French will only drink French wine? ). We were impressed by how many bottles were being produced by a relatively small workforce – only about 20 or 30 people in total. The wine itself was delicious too, so we took a bottle or two away with us as a treat.

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