Rioja and Penedes

Hi! So, after mentally planning and unplanning multiple European trips for 2022, I bit the bullet and actually bought airfare for a week in Spain in September. We are flying into Madrid and out of Barcelona. We will spend two nights in Laguardia in Rioja and two nights near Vilafranca Del Penedes in cava country. There are some good threads on here on Rioja, but just curious if anyone has any experience in Penedes.
Looks like Priorat would be a doable day trip, but I’m also content to explore cava and area producers in Penedes. (There’s also Trepat Trail in Concha De Barbera that gets my geek heart beating).
Anyway, thanks in advance for any thoughts on places to taste wine/eat dinner in La Guardia, Zaragoza (one night stopover) or the Penedes region. It looks like an embarrassment of riches all over so really looking for some knowledgeable editors to help me narrow things down.

We did a very similar trip in 2019 right before the pandemic hit. Flew into Madrid and drove to Laguardia for 3 nights then to San Sebastian for 2 nights and then to Priorat for 2 nights then to Barcelona for 2 nights and flew out of Barcelona. So hopefully I can fill in some of the gaps for you.

Cool, thanks. I’d be curious to know where you tasted near LaGuardia, if there are spots you recommend. I’m also wondering if I should bother making dinner reservations in LaGuardia or just do a Logrono pinxto stroll both nights.
Was Priorat worth the time?

Itinerary in general:

July 2nd - overnight flight to Madrid
July 3rd to 7th - La Rioja (Hotel Calle Mayor)
July 7th to 10th - San Sebastian (Hotel Londres y de Inglaterra)
July 10th to 12th - Priorat (Hotel Cal Llop)
July 12th to 14th - Barcelona (Hotel Colon)
July 14th - same day flight to Dallas

Tastings in LaGuarida:

  • July 4th (Thursday):

  • Visit to Haro (Railway Station District) -
    10:30 - Visit to Lopez Heredia
    From 12:30 to 13:30 - Visit other “wine bars” over there.
    13:30 - Lunch “La Duelas” (Haro)
    16:00 - Visit to “Conde de los Andes”

  • July 5th (Friday):

10:30 Visit to Artadi (Laguardia)
12:00 Visit to Marques de Riscal (Elciego)
13:30 Lunch in Marques de Riscal (10 or 14 course tasting with wine)
16:30 Visit to Tritium (Cenicero)

  • July 6th (Saturday):

10:00 Wine tasting in Marques de Murrieta
12:30 Visit to Luis Cañas (Villabuena de Alava)
14:00 Lunch in “Asador Jose Mari” (Rivas de Tereso)
17:00 Visit to Contador (San Vicente de la Sonsierra)

Absolutely enjoyed all of them but Riscal was obviously the most commercial as well as pedestrian. We mostly went there because of reservations at the Michelin Starred restaurant on site. The restaurant definitely made for a good experience.

All tastings were pre-booked. Matter of fact, we used a guide. One I would recommend. He did a great job.

We stayed in Logrono. I don’t think we made any restaurant reservations for that part of the trip. First up, that was our first 3 days. Jet lag might’ve taken us out. So we just did tapas crawls each night while there. Definitely recommended. There are a couple of distinctly different areas in Logrono to crawl. Plenty of options.

Concerning Priorat. I say yes it was worth the time. At least for us. But one day, two nights are likely enough to give you a sense to build upon whether to return. iirc we tasted at Mas Martinet & Celler Vall Llach. Both recommended. Dinner was at Celler de l’Aspic in Falset. Also recommended. Reservation recommended. Lunch between tastings was at Restaurant La Cooperativa. Nice local spot for an inexpensive lunch with wine. Pop in OK.

btw, Priorat is pretty close to Barcelona. That’s one of the reasons we visited. We basically drove from San Sebastian to Barcelona taking a slight detour over to Priorat along the way. You can definitely do it as a day trip from Barcelona if desired. There is even a train between the two if you hire a driver ahead of time in Falset to take you around.

Great advice all the way around. I appreciate your help.

Penedes is very doable as a day trip from Barcelona by train, about an hour each way from Barcelona-Sants to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia and back. Most of the major cava houses are within walkable distance of the Sant Sadurni train station. And then next stop over from Sant Sadurni is Vilafranca, where you can find more wineries that do non-sparkling Penedes wines.

We visited Recaredo (in Sant Sadurni) and Pares Balta (in Vilafranca) in 2017 and really enjoyed both. In fact, Pares Balta remains one of the most memorable and fun winery visits I’ve had to date, and Joan Cusine, the owner himself, gave us the tour that day. Actually I have Otto to thank for discovering these two - years before I became aware of his presence on WB, I was researching wineries I wanted to visit in the region and stumbled across his TNs on CellarTracker which led me to these spots :slight_smile:

Thanks! I’ll check out those wineries. I currently have two nights in a little town just a few KMs from Sant Sadurni.

Absolutely put Casa Terete on the list for a long lunch while you are in Haro. One of my favorite meals we had on our trip to Spain over Thanksgiving this past year. Order the roast suckling lamb and ask to go down into their cellar to pick out some wine. There’s some fun stuff hanging around down there at sharp prices. There is also a fantastic little wine store down the street from there with all the great wines of Spain going back as far as the 20’s called Vinoteca Rodriguez Alonso worth checking out. Laguardia is a beautiful town with views to die for and although we only strolled through briefly there seemed to be some nice restaurants many of which were Basque. We stayed in Logrono and did the tapas crawls there. It was ok (certainly nowhere near as good as San Sebastien or even Madrid for that matter). Its definitely not a sexy town. We thought it lacked charm and substance and would’ve preferred to stay in Haro but YMMV…

Hi guys,
7 months later this trip is finally coming into focus. The trip is seven days–Madrid>Pedraza>Laguardia>Zaragoza>Sant Sadurní d’Anoia>Barcelona, with no actual time in the fly in/fly out cities. I’ve got lodging and food locked down for the most part and am trying to incorporate some of the suggestions above, but just wondering if anyone had any must visits in Rioja or Penedes (or Carinena or Navarra or any of the other in-betweeners) I should be sure to incorporate not covered above. Thanks!

I thought I heard/read somewhere that Vall Llach had some kind of roof/building collapse due to heavy snow (!) so check to see if they are open for visitors again…

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I just visited Pares Balta and it was a blast. Very informative staff, and they are open all day. More crowded during the weekend, so I am told. We visited on Wednesday and were were the only ones there. Highly recommend