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Explore the Best Wineries in Rioja Alta

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Taste through a selection of a great local wines.

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Rioja Alta wine region, along with Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja, is the westernmost area of Spain's famous Rioja region. The majority of its vineyards lie south of the Ebro River, so grapes grow under the influence of an Atlantic climate and on a great mixture of soils. Rioja Alta's numerous towns carry a long history full of traditions and emotions that have turned them into popular wine tourism destinations.

Find out more about Wine Tasting and Tours in Rioja Alta!

Famous Towns of Rioja Alta

Rioja Alta centres on the historic town of Haro, where several well-known wineries are located. Other famous districts are Nájera and Logroño. They make a valuable contribution to the area with their magnificent landscapes, environmental resources, cultural diversity, and an unmatched passion for wine, capable of awakening the interest of anyone.

Some other interesting destinations that hide in this wonderful zone are Ollauri, Briones, Cuzcurrita del Río Tirón, San Asensio, Cenicero, and San Vicente de la Sonsierra, and Fuenmayor located in the westernmost part of the region.

The city of Bilbao is not far either, it is about 100 km away from the wine region. Likewise, you can discover and visit the closest wineries to the Bilbao city.

Rioja Alta Wine Map

Rioja Alta Wine Map

Rioja Alta Wine Route

Spain is one of the top wine producing countries in the world and Rioja Alta is a region with some of the best winemakers. This is the place where the Spanish wine-making culture originated. History has shown that here the best wines of Spain have been made for centuries. The Rioja Alta Wine Route is the best wine route in Spain for individuals who don't just want to taste wine, but also experience the divine beauty of Spanish landscapes and eat tasty regional cuisine. Read more about the Rioja Alta Wine Route!

Difference Between Three Subregions of Rioja

Rioja’s subregions enjoy a variety of soils, and microclimates, each making wines of unique character. Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa have a reputation for producing quality-oriented wines. Their natural climate and soil help vines flourish and ripe faster. On the other hand, Rioja Baja (Oriental) has not been so lucky in the climate and terroir type.

Rioja Alta is Located on the western side of Rioja. This subregion has an Atlantic climate, and its soils consist of iron-rich clay mixed with limestone. The wines produced here can have a great building and high acidity.

Rioja Alavesa is the smallest of the subregions of Rioja. It is also experiencing an Atlantic climate influence. The soils of this area are predominantly chalky and clay. The wines from this region tend to be lighter-bodied than other parts of the region.

Rioja Baja (Rioja Oriental) is located in the east of Rioja. This place experiences a much warmer, drier climate due to the Mediterranean character. This subregion produces wines with high extract and alcohol, lower in acidity.

Rioja Alta
Rioja Alta wine region

Popular grapes and wines from Rioja Alta wine region

Rioja Alta red wines are mostly a blend of multiple indigenous grape varieties, with Tempranillo being the most popular one. This variety is the most planted grape, occupying 75% of the Rioja wine region, that thrives in Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. Tempranillo produces elegant, earthy wines with good colour, structure, and high acidity.

Other major grapes are Graciano, Mazuelo, and Garnacha. These grapes are fond of the warmer conditions, so they are more popular in the Rioja Baja subregion. They are also drought-resistant, late-ripening grapes, providing color, aroma, and alcoholic strength to wines.

Depending on the aging process and other characteristics, Rioja Alta wines can be put in four categories:

Cosecha wines are delivered in their first or second year, and they are fresh, fruity with no aging capability. 

Crianza wine ages a minimum of one year in barrels and some months in bottles. Crianzas are high-quality, accessible wines that are intended for everyday drinking.

Reserva wines should be aged for a minimum of 3 years and at least one year in barrels. For this kind of wine, winemakers select the higher quality grapes and produce wines with great cellar capability.

Gran Reserva red wines must spend at least two years in barrels and three years in the bottle. White wines must be aged a minimum of four years, with at least one year in barrels.

Food to pair with Rioja Alta Wine

Patatas a la riojana

Patatas a la riojana is a traditional Spanish dish that is made with potatoes, garlic, sliced chorizo, onions, and pimentón paprika. This combination of ingredients is cooked in water with bay leaves until the potatoes are fully prepared.

The dish is usually served with crusty bread, and it is considered one of the most popular national dishes in Spain. It's recommended to pair the dish with local Rioja Alta wines.

Patatas a la riojana
Famous Patatas a la riojana - regional speciality

Pochas a la riojana

Another traditional for La Rioja region cuisine is a stew made of caparrones (white shelling beans) spare ribs, bacon, onions, chorizo, and spices. The dish may vary from the village-to-village: if not caparrones, the dish base might be cooked with flageolet, cannellini or white lima beans.

Chorizo

Chorizo is a famous Spanish sausage that is made with chopped pork meat and fat. The meat is seasoned with garlic and paprika and filled into a regular casing. 

Chorizo has a different, hearty, and spicy flavour. You will come across a modified version of chorizo in other countries, but some people claim that chorizo has origins in the Catalan xoriço. While you travel in Spain, you should taste Chorizo with local Rioja wine.

Places you shouldn’t miss in Rioja Alta

San Millán de la Cogolla

Located at the foot of the “Sierra de la Demanda”, the highlights of San Millán de la Cogolla are the famous Monasteries of Yuso and Suso. They declared a World Heritage Site and the origin of written Castilian. Here you can involve yourself in history by visiting the two abbeys and staying in local hotels.

Apart from the monasteries, you can walk in the magnificent natural environment of the Sierra de la Demanda. You will be able to travel the town and make routes in the surroundings to enjoy the tranquility.

San Millán de la Cogolla
San Millán de la Cogolla in Rioja wine region

Nájera

Located in the middle of the Rioja Alta, Nájera is surely one of the most charming villages in the Rioja region. This town stands out for its historical legacy, with several masterpieces of great interest such as the Monastery of Santa María La Real, the Royal Chapel and the Parish of Santa Cruz, the Convent of Santa Elena, or the Archaeological Museum Najerillense. 

The views of the Najerilla River from the bridge of San Juan de Ortega, create a perfect blend of the natural and monumental surroundings. Nájera is one of the most populated towns with great Rioja wines and gastronomy.

Haro

Haro is the capital of the Rioja Denomination. It is a town and municipality in the northwest of La Rioja province in northern Spain. It produces red wine and hosts the annual Haro Wine Festival. In this charming town, you will come across famous wineries and beautiful sightseeing.

Haro also has a monumental historic center, where the 7 statues represent the ancient trades of Haro. Together with its gastronomy, wines, and amazing views, Haro is one of the most picturesque villages of Rioja.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rioja Alta

What kind of wine is a Rioja?

The majority of Rioja wines are red, but they can also be white and rosé, sometimes even sparkling, although this is uncommon. The main grape of Rioja Tempranillo, which is blended with several other grapes. Other major grapes in Rioja subregion are Graciano, Mazuelo, and Garnacha.

What are the three subregions of Rioja?

There are three subregions in Rioja: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja (Rioja Oriental). Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa produce quality-oriented, full-bodied and high acid wines.

Is Rioja wine dry or sweet?

Rioja wine has medium sweetness, tannin, and low acidity with a medium to high oakiness. Rioja wines are split into four classification levels: Genérico, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. They can be medium to full-bodied, with high tannins and rich flavors of dark berries, and herbs.

Where is Rioja Alta?

Rioja Alta is a wine sub-region of Rioja, located in northern Spain.

Map of Wineries in Rioja Alta

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Just getting started on your wine journey, or jumping back in?
Taste through a selection of a great local wines.

Wineries in Rioja Alta