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Brad Ring WineMaker Magazine


Brad Ring, Publisher of WineMaker Magazine, personally invites you to join him on this exclusive wine vacation.

Join WineMaker Magazine to explore the rich wine culture, food, and history of the world famous Rioja region and Basque Country in Spain including the memorable cities of Bilbao, San Sebastián, and Haro.
We begin our exploration with the internationally famous reds and whites from La Rioja, Spain’s biggest and best wine destination. There are over 600 wineries in Rioja and their wines are the essence of Spain, with their spicy undertones and hints of stone fruit. Here, the Tempranillo grape is king! Framed by green vineyards and the dramatic Cantabrian Mountains, La Rioja is full of rolling hills, winding rivers and regal hilltop towns. We’ll have the chance to have insider tours, meeting and learning from the winemakers while asking them questions as we sample some of the best wines in the world right where they are made. We’ll also add the delicious local food to the mix for a truly special visit to the region.
We then visit the fiercely independent Basque Country, a picturesque mix of beautiful beaches, verdant agriculture, and sophisticated cities and small towns located on both sides of the Spanish-French border. Perhaps above all, the Basque region is known as a true wine lover’s and foodie’s delight. Rumored to employ more chefs per capita than any other part of the world, the Basque region (País Vasco in Spanish or Euskal Herria in the Basque language) is full of culinary delights. It is also home to the indigenous Txakoli white wine, a crisp, lightly effervescent variety, and locally-made hard cider. Both local drinks pair perfectly with the fresh las frutas del mar of the northern coastline. We’ll explore wineries on both sides of the border for a truly memorable week of special wine and food experiences.

Curated Experiences

  • Explore Spain with Lorena Gil Fain, a native of the wine region of Mendoza, Argentina, who has extensive knowledge of Spain and Spanish wine and family living in the area.
  • Visit the French town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, famous for its chocolates and macarons
  • Engage in a hands-on classic Basque pastry class in Saint-Jean-de-Luz
  • Discover the history of winemaking in Rioja and the towns of Haro, Elciego, San Vicente and Laguardia
  • Take part in a fun local tradition: a tapas crawl with delicious traditional foods paired with wine as you walk from bar to restaurant to bar – a walking feast!
  • Contrast old world vs new world wines and take part in intimate private wine tastings at famous bodegas…and ones you may have never heard of!

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Tour Details

Tour Details

  • Location: La Rioja & Basque Country, Spain
  • Next Tour Date: June 23 – 28, 2024
  • Trip Price Per Person: $4,300
  • Optional single supplement: $800
  • Host: Lorena Gil
  • Meals: All meals except one dinner and one lunch
  • General Tour FAQs
  • Minimum/Maximum: 6/18 people

This private tour is brought to you by:

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Tour Itinerary

Day 1 > June 23 > Sunday

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Spain

Welcome to España! Our journey begins in Bilbao, where we’ll be whisked away to La Rioja, Spain’s most respected wine-growing region, and Haro, its wine capital. Haro is an ancient and beautiful town set on a hill above the River Ebro and is our base for exploring Rioja.

Indulge in an exquisite traditional winery tasting and tour at La Rioja Alta in Haro. After, we will visit Bodega Roda, founded in 1987, where you’ll savor the flavors of exceptional wines and taste firsthand the influence of the three climates of Rioja Alta, Atlantic, continental, and Mediterranean.

Now it’s time to unwind at the luxurious Hotel Los Agustinos before enjoying a delightful welcome drink and participating in one of the most famous local customs known as Txikiteo, a fun pintxos (tapas) crawl of our favorite tapas bars of the city – a great way to try many of the local specialties!

Day 2 > June 24 > Monday

Today’s theme is Classic Rioja Wines. We’ll start out with a short walk to the prestigious Bodegas López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, or simply Viña Tondonia, an over 140-year-old winery that offers one of the best tours and tastings we’ve had the pleasure to experience, as well as a funky, decanter-shaped tasting room.

Next, we’ll walk across the street for an outstanding lunch at Bodegas Muga. They are quite famous, of course, for their wine but they also prepare the most wonderful lamb for lunch! Additionally, they have their own cooperage. Following traditional methods, Bodegas Muga uses oak throughout their wine-making processes and is one of the very few Spanish wineries that employs three coopers plus a “cubero” (who specializes in big casks).

After you’ve eaten your fill, you will have free time to explore (and perhaps walk off our hearty lunch) along the postcard-esque streets of Haro on your own. Later, we’ll reconvene for dinner, this time at Bohedal Bodega, a winery where we will experience an informal and fun Riojan meal eaten outdoors. As a special treat, we cap off the night’s meal with wine ice cream!

Day 3 > June 25 > Tuesday

Spain Wine and Food Vacation
Today’s theme is modern wines! We will explore the modern style of Spanish winemaking as we head to our intimate private tasting at Viña Real, whose parent CVNE (pronounced coo-nay) is legendary and whose architecturally innovative structure is shaped like a giant wine vat set into the hillside.

Afterward, we will shuttle to the amazing Marques de Riscal, which has 160 years of tradition packed into a modern structure designed by Frank O. Gehry and indulge in a gastronomic journey at the Michelin-starred restaurant in Elciego.

Later this afternoon, we will visit the small town of Laguardia, a walled village that hasn’t changed much since the 13th century! This is where Bodegas Carlos San Pedro, a hidden gem of a winery, offers a barrel tasting in the underground caves below the city, as well as a taste of their locally-produced olive oil. We then let you free to plan your own dinner tonight — maybe you’ll be ready for an earlier night and more casual fare — dinners in Spain are typically quite late and last a while by American standards!

Day 4 > June 26 > Wed

Rioja Vineyard

After breakfast, we say farewell to the Rioja region, and say hello to Basque Country and the oceanfront town of Getaria, our home base for the next two nights. Cider is a big deal in this region so our first stop will be a tour, tasting, and classic Basque lunch at the cidery Sidrería Satxota.

We will also make a stop at Txomin Etxaniz to explore the indigenous Txakoli, a slightly sparkling, dry white wine with high acidity and low alcohol. We’ll walk the vineyards to see the unique trellising used to grow this local grape as well as the winemaking area learning more about their growing and winemaking techniques (and their tradition of pouring the wine into glasses from high above!)

In the late afternoon, you have the option of walking the 6-kilometer seaside promenade from the high-end surf town of Zarautz to Getaria where our hotel is located. Our rooms at Hotel Saiaz face the rolling waves of the sea, a reminder that the Basques have a long tradition of being master fishermen, and tonight’s dinner at Kaia Kaipe includes the wonderful grilled fish for which they are famous.

Day 5 > June 27 > Thursday

Today, we’ll cross the border into the French Basque region and visit the scenic fishing port and beach resort town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. First, we’ll visit Egiategia Winery right on the waterfront where they actually age their wines underwater in the bay. We’ll learn about this unique winemaking approach during the tour and tasting and have plenty of chances to ask questions.

After the winery, you’ll have free time to stroll the waterfront and explore the city’s wonderful selection of chocolates, bread, macarons, seafood, and other epicurean delicacies. Next up we have a classic Basque pastry hands-on cooking class.

Then it’s back to Spain and the bustling foodie paradise of San Sebastian (the world’s top city for Michelin-starred restaurants per capita) where we’ll have a fantastic dinner at our most favorite restaurant, Rekondo. We will choose a couple really special bottles of wine from their immense cellar to go with dinner. What a perfect way to end our last night together.

Day 6 > June 28 > Friday

On our last day of the tour, you’ll enjoy a morning of free time on your own, perhaps walking on Getaria’s peninsula of San Anton, also known as “The Mouse” due to its characteristic shape. After checking out of our hotel, we’ll continue our journey to our final tasting at Gaintza Txakolina, a family winery on 25 hectares of vineyards protected by Mount Garate not far from the Cantabrian Sea.

We’ll continue our journey by completing our loop back to Bilbao, where we will bid one another farewell and either travel onward or depart for home.

Tour Accommodations

Nights 1, 2, & 3: Hotel Los Agustinos (Haro) The Hotel Agustinos dates back to 1373 when Don Diego Lopez de Haro built the licensed convent. Since then its incarnations have included a military garrison, hospital, prison, and school. Completely renovated in 2006, the hotel features a magnificent cloister which is covered in glass and wonderful accommodations.

Nights 4 & 5: Hotel Saiaz (Getaria) Hotel Saiaz is converted from Gothic houses in the historic center and located on a narrow street of cobblestone. The hotel sits over the ocean and is minutes away from a wonderful beach, perfect for a swim before breakfast or dinner. The owner Mikel and his staff take excellent care of us.

Accommodation upgrades available upon request.

What is Included

  • All Local Transportation
  • Double Occupancy Lodging
  • All of your meals except for one dinner and one lunch
  • All Scheduled Activities
  • Wine During Organized Tastings
  • Professional Tour Host

Not Included: Travel to and from destination, wine with meals (included on Deluxe Private Tours), personal expenses, and optional gratuities to local staff and your Host. Travel insurance is also not included, though we highly recommend it.  Check out our Travel Insurance page for more information.

While the general trip itinerary will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common — restaurants close or lose their amazing chef, a winery changes their visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, etc. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance.

Arrival & Departure

Lorena, your guide, and Brad, your host, will meet you in the early afternoon in Bilbao, Spain on the first day of the trip at the Gran Hotel Domine. We’ll return to Bilbao’s airport the last afternoon of the trip, giving you time to travel onward or stay another night in Bilbao.


There are no direct flights from North America to Bilbao (airport code BIO), but flights generally require just one stop in a major European airport before arriving in Bilbao. All flights from North America to Europe are overnight flights. Returning home, you can catch an afternoon flight from Bilbao and return to major North American or European airports that same day.