We’re planning a Spring 2023 trip that would include Basque Country/Bilbao and a day trip to Haro. I’m a big fan of Muga and Lopez De Heredia and we’d likely visit one or both. Any recommendations for a like-minded producer to visit that may be a little under the radar?
My wife and I spent time in that area in 2016 for our honeymoon, so it is already 6+ years (almost 7 by the time you are on your trip). That said we did enjoy our visit with Gomez Cruzado who is a bit under the radar, at least back in 2016. There is some availability here in the US but not very broad.
We also stayed in Laguardia (well right outside the walled village) and went to visit Bodegas Carlos San Pedro which was unique and fun. I think we did that before finding a place for dinner one night. Nothing mind blowing but a nice informative tour, cool cave/cellar, and they did some tastings straight from a barrel.
I’ve never been there but I’d really like to and tried to see how much would it be possible to visit Lopez De Heredia coming from the Basque Country, since I’m a big fan of the winery as well.
Problem is, before all the logistic etc: on their site it was displayed that they do not allow visits for non - professionals.
And even if you are a professional I believe it’s not that easy either, I’ve asked and esteemed sommelier if he’s ever been there and his answer was something like “god, I wish”, that made me think is also not the most accessible place even if you’re in the business. But hey, maybe you’re high enough in the foodchain and then it’s just logistics for you
I was there in 2019 right before the pandemic hit. Most of the big names you can think of off the top of your head are in a small area called the Railway Station District and are quite walkable from each other. You can hit several in a single day.
Lopez de Heredia
La Rioja Alta
Just get there and get after it.
Nice stop for lunch is La Duelas.
Hi Joe, after your post I wanted to double check Lopez de Heredia website, not because I wanted to “prove you wrong”, but I wanted to be sure I didn’t spread misinformation in my previous post (and actually hoped I had)
from Lopez De Heredia website, in the visit page, translated with google but pretty clear:
The Winery is open exclusively for professionals, always by appointment.
During the harvest period we remain closed.
Now I’m sure there’s no shortage of wine business people here so no major issue, may I ask you if you’re indeed a professional and what kind (if it’s just a regular somm I might be able to go there one day and that’d be one more reason to start the course for me )
Well I will confess we stayed in Logrono and hired a guide and driver who handled all of the local scheduling for me so I didn’t have to which included getting into LdH. Tasted and bought while there.
That’s very intresting, definitely a baller move but might come useful in the future! Thank you very much
Thanks for the comments and recommendations. I know the more well-known names in Rioja, but haven’t followed as closely as other regions. I’ll use the opportunity to dig a little deeper.
Gomez Crusado is one I don’t know, but mentioned here twice. I’ll definitely check it out.
Headed there in about 3 weeks and will report back. It is my impression that Heredia is not currently doing tours. Still looking forward to buying and drinking in restaurants.
Have a free tour booked at Hermanos de Pecina currently and planned to pop into Gomez Cuzado and maybe Rioja Alta one day. Abeica, Izadi (they have an e-bike package I was interested in) and a couple TBD the next day.
The WA Spain reviewer had a big Rioja spread in July and I subscribed for a month to read it. Informative. There is also a relatively new book called Wines of Northern Spain by Sara Jane Evans with tons of producer profiles.
But anyway, I hope to have on the ground intel soon.
Awesome, looking forward to hearing about your trip.
Thanks for the thread, Matt.
Will be there in December, so I’m following along! Staying in Haro 3 nights on our way from Madrid to SS.
So what IS the deal with LdH for those that have been? You can visit to taste and see the property, but have to schedule in advance for a guided tour? They can’t be totally closed to non-professionals. I agree the language on the website is a bit confusing. I’ve not yet reached out to them about a visit in Dec.
I stopped at LdH last August - they did not respond to my email seeing if a visit was possible, so I just dropped in during the “sales” open hours listed on their website. There was no tour or tasting - just the opportunity to buy wine (in the modern building immediately to the right of where it says “Vina Tondonia” in the picture below). There was also no option to buy individual bottles of white or rosé - only OWCs of 5 bottles of Tondonia red with one white or one rosé (though pricing was good - believe it was ~€180 per 6 pack). On the way out of town we stopped at a wine bar/bottle shop in Haro but unfortunately they were selling the LdH rosé for American secondary market prices (>€100 per bottle)…
Thanks, Brendan. Good to know. I wonder if they’ve changed policy recently? I know people that have visited for tours/tastings, and there our comments on sites everywhere about what a great visit it is.
If you read previous post there’s a fellow berserker who booked a tour thought third parties. It might be a matter of “firepower”
Just reading along - we visited LdH way back in 2009 (it was open for tours to anyone at the time), and it was indeed one of my favorite winery visits ever, so i’m sorry to read it is now harder to book. The cellars are drenched in history - both the stories told and the vast stores of aging bottles literally sitting in front of you covered in cobwebs and mold.
It might be a good idea for some berserkers to organize a trip there, maybe for a group of 10 people, some wine retailers and somms among them, with a spanish speaker, and you might have better chances!
I’m not pitching this idea to be a part of it, I wouldn’t. I’d rather impress them in an old school movie - anime fashion by sitting day and night for 3 days, rain pouring over me and sun scorching my skin, in front of the door untill they’re so moved by my resilience that they decide to grant me access
I visited LdH four or five years ago. A proper tour of the cellar, winery, barrel room, etc., required an appointment in advance, though anyone could visit the shop and chat and buy wine. As mentioned above, it’s a special visit. I had an importer friend reach out to help with the appointment.
I was there in January 2020. No, January is not the month to go to Haro. There was no one there. No one. I didn’t see another person at any tasting. Restaurants were closed. It was a ghost town. If you pull up a map of Haro, everything is right there. You walk everywhere and I loved it. Here’s my list in order of preference.
LdH. Simply no equal anywhere. Seeing the caves, coppersmith, the whole facility is incredible. They define old school production. Had a great time. Wine was great as well, but you can get the wine anywhere here and they stick very close to their base wines.
Gomez Cruzado. Closer to an actual Napa Style tasting. Great wine. Lots of different bottles. Hard to find here. Should have bought more bottles. Good feel and took a lot of time with us.
Roda. I liked the wine and being able to taste a non traditional wine. Good lineup. Not the cheapest option.
Muga/Rioja Alta. Wine was good. Tasting people seemed a little uninterested. But it was January, so I wouldn’t hold it against them. Rioja Alta had a lot if different bottles you could taste. They essentially had a wine list that you could pick from.
Wish we would have gone to Cvne. We thought it was just too big, but they are the ones who export the most to the US, so we see them the most.
Keep in mind that these producers are mega producers. A dozen producers control a really high percentage of the market. I can’t remember how much, but it was surprising. A mid size producer is 40k bottles, which in my mind is on the high side. I would definitely visit these producers because it is so easy, but get a guide and seek out some local producers and bring back as much of that as you can.
Outside of Haro, we went to Amaren and had a great time. Shipped a case back to the US, and the shipping cost as much as the wine.
Thanks Andrew. Did you contact LdH for an appointment?