La Rioja

La Rioja fertile valleys, dramatic
mountains, colorful villages, fine wines and excellent cuisine are all
found in this extraordinary region of northern Spain.


This small region, located between the
Basque Country and Castilla, gives its name to one of the most renowned
Spanish wines in the world.   For years when dining at a restaurant and
wanting to accompany the meal with a fine wine patrons always ordered a
bottle from Rioja gradually wines from other Spanish regions have gained
prestige and popularity but Rioja wines, particularly reds are still
synonymous with quality and nobility.

La Rioja is a region and also a wine
producing area even though their limits do not coincide exactly. 
La Rioja as a geographic region includes not only a fertile valley where wines are cultivated but also a large
mountainous area to the south and a vast agricultural expanse to the
east, while La Rioja wine producing area expands a little further north
entering Álava, one of the three Basque provinces.  When traveling to
La Rioja a visit to the winery of Elciego or the wonderful walled city of
Laguardia are a must, both located in the Rioja Alavesa.

La-Rioja-Marques-de-Riscal-wineryRioja winemakers have invested in
upgrading their facilities and some of the best known architects in the
world have transformed the old wineries into works of art, as is the
case of El Marqués de Riscal winery in the Rioja Alavesa a splendid
building designed by none other than Frank Gehry.  Several of these
wineries have also added hotels and restaurants to their facilities
giving way to a new wave of tourism, Enoturismo or wine tourism.  The lively town of Haro
is a good starting point for exploring some of the best wineries in the
area and home to the famous Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine) held
every year in the summer time.

Along with the wines the Camino de
Santiago or St. James way is also a major protagonist in thisLa-Rioja-Parador-de-Santo-Domingo-de-la-Calzada region;
the route traverses the area in its entirety including the capital Logroño and two of its most interesting cities Nájera and Santo Domingo
de la Calzada.  In the latter there is a spectacular parador and a
church with one of the highest and most beautiful baroque towers found
in Spain. San Millán de la Cogolla is a place of great natural beauty
with two monasteries the Suso , known as the one on the top, of Moorish
architecture and the Yuso, known as the one below, from the XVI century
which in some ways resembles the Monastery of El Escorial and houses the
emilianenses glosses which contain the first words ever written in
castellano or Castilian.

Not far from there, in the mountains,
is Ezcaray a stunning town with some Basque flair, upbeat and lively,
chosen by many riojanos and basque people as a summer vacation spot. 
Further up the mountain is the ski resort of Valdezcaray.  The mountains
of Ezcaray are populated by oak and beech and generous in the fall
offering fans a large variety of mushrooms.

Fans of big game hunting (wild boar,
roe deer and red deer) flock to Tierra de Cameros in the mountains that
separate La Rioja from the province of Soria in Castilla y Leon, one of
the most beautiful mountain landscapes and of the greatest ecological
value of the entire peninsula.

La-Rioja-EzcarayTravelling to
this region is always a
pleasure easily demonstrated while sitting at one of its magnificent
restaurants, sipping a glass of Rioja and enjoying the cuisine which
combines the excellence of its huertas (vegetable gardens) with
delectable plates of lamb or pork.  Some dishes of the region such as
las patatas a la riojana with chorizo or stuffed peppers are a well know
part of the popular Spanish food culture.   

La Rioja is a small province but its
fertile landscapes, world renowned wines and historical heritage present
endless travel possibilities to its visitors.



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