“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions, and more tolerance.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
We arrived at Logroño around midday and it surprised us to see it was an empty canvas. We knew that “siestas” were common in Spain, but since there is so much tourism in Madrid, we did not see it as much. However, Logroño was a different story. The streets were empty, the restaurants and stores were closed, even the park, “Parque del Espolon,” was deserted. We walked throughout the many narrow streets and spent some time at the park too. There were just a few tourists walking around. Everything came back to life at around 5:00 p.m. with locals and tourists flocking to the restaurants and bars. The “siesta” was over!
Logroño is a city in La Rioja, which is Spain’s top wine-producing region in the north. Its history and traditions date back to the Middle Ages. Its medieval churches are the essence of Logroño’s culture. There’s the Church of Santa Maria de Palacio which is a Gothic style, as well as the Church of San Bartolomé. The Co-Cathedral de Santa Maria de la Redonda, with the two towers and art by Michelangelo, is one of the most important stops of the pilgrim’s route to Santiago de Compostela (Camino de Santiago). The museum, “El Museo de la Rioja,” houses a collection from the prehistoric era up until today. The museum itself is in a palace built in the 18th century. You will also find the Center for Rioja Wine Culture. It has a museum, exhibition rooms, tasting rooms, a wine shop and a wine bar. The 4-story building was a palace in the 16th century.
We stayed at the Hotel Mercure Carlton Rioja. A very nice 4-star hotel centrally located on Ave Gran Via Juan Carlos I. The hotel lobby and gathering areas were very nicely decorated. Our room was a little outdated in the decor, but it was clean and had no yucky carpets which was important to me. The service was very good and everyone was polite. I would stay at the Mercure Carlton Rioja again and definitely recommend it.
During our stay in Logroño, we did a few wine tours. Our first tour was at Bodegas Ontañon in Ave. Aragon in Logroño. We visited its museum, went for a wine tasting and did a little wine shopping. The museum is small but housed enough information from its beginnings to its actual quarters. This winery has been open for more than 30 years. I wasn’t too impressed by it.
We also visited Bodegas Marqués de Cáceres, at Avenida de Fuenmayor in Cenicero about 20 minutes from the hotel. Marqués de Cáceres has been a family-owned wine producer for five generations. We toured their premises and learned about their wine-making process, types of wines, aging, barrels, cork, etc. By the way, did you know that the cork comes from a tree? It is the bark of a cork oak tree. I never gave it any thought so I didn’t know it. But it was a very interesting tour. What didn’t impress me was that the fermentation process is done in stainless steel tanks. I expected to see this process in old wooden barrels. We did, however, enjoy a fabulous wine tasting with local hors-d’oeuvres and the wine was excellent!
The Bodegas Franco-Españolas, in Cabo Noval Street in Logroño, was my favorite tour. This winery was founded in 1890. No wonder they have great quality wines, that’s 128 years of wine production! Their premises houses thousands and thousands of wooden barrels and their fermentation process are done in huge wooden tanks. The tour was educational and interesting. We ended the tour with a spectacular tasting and local tapas. And, of course, we bought some wines. Good thing we have our wine suitcase.
Our last wine tasting took place at “La Tavina Taberna y Tienda de Vinos” in the famous touristy Calle Laurel. It was within walking distance from our hotel. The wine tasting included wines paired with an excellent choice of local tapas. La Tavina also has a wine store. We ended our tour with a delicious local sherry which took a toll on me because I don’t remember how we got back to the hotel. Good thing it was within walking distance. But it was an excellent wine tasting and more wine to bring home. I would definitely visit “La Tavina Taberna y Tienda de Vinos” again.
Logroño is a beautiful, clean city with less traffic than Madrid and a laid-back lifestyle. It is a bit far from other cities. To get to Logroño we drove through a few country roads with breathtaking landscapes. It took us about 4 hours from Madrid to Logroño. Of course, we made various stops for snapshots along the way. I love that “siestas” are so important in Spain. I really did like Logroño and expect to return to this charming little town someday soon. Not to mention the many spectacular wines that I bought back home. If you have not visited Logroño, I encourage you to do so and visit one of its many wineries.
Have you visited Logroño? If so, what do you recommend? If not, would you be interested in visiting Logroño?