Wine tourism in Spain is not easy. Unlike a lot of other wine regions, most wineries in Spanish Wine Country do not post visiting hours and open their doors to just anyone driving down the road seeking to visit.
Instead, visitors to Spanish wine regions generally have to make advance reservations, which is not easy to do for independent travelers who don’t necessarily know which wineries they wish to visit or even how to speak the local language.
Perhaps this is why we find many small wineries in Spain are scarcely visited. In Rioja, which is as beautiful as the most well-known European wine regions, the only crowds we see are at the well-known, tourist-oriented wineries. When we visit smaller wineries, we are often the only ones there.
And this lack of visitors is compounded when one considers Americans. For some reason, traveling the wine routes of Rioja just has not made it to the priority list of most American travelers. For a tour company like Taste Vacations that loves getting a real experience, this has all worked to our advantage.
But this might be changing.
According to a new report published by ACEVIN, the Asociación Española de Ciudades del Vino (Spanish Association of Wine Cities), the Spanish wine tourism market grew by 21% in 2016. This number only includes winery visits and visits to the wine museums located along specific wine routes. If they included accommodations, restaurants, shops and wine-route related activities, the number would be even higher.
So what does this mean? It could mean that Spanish Wine Country is on the cusp of being the next big wine region for tourism. But that kind of change doesn’t just happen overnight. We will have to see if wineries decide to align with other regions on how they operate and welcome guests on their grounds or if they will keep some of their mystery and prestige intact. Only time will tell.
For the time being though, Taste Vacations will continue to enjoy being the ones to unlock the hidden gems of Spanish Wine Country for our fellow wine travelers. If you’re a person that likes to avoid crowds and take in more unique, intimate experiences, join us on the Basque Country & Rioja, Spain Food & Wine Tour.