La Rioja - Wine & Walk Tours
Walk through one of Spain's finest landscapes of medieval towns, monasteries, vineyards, beech and oak woods. Explore the region whilst indulging your culinary senses in our selection of delightful hotels and Michelin restaurant - all in exquisite settings with charming views over a fertile rolling landscape. It all combines to make this a superb journey.
La Rioja, in northern Spain, is a land of vineyards, good food, culture and an impressive countryside. You will love the variety of its landscapes. Here you will find Mediterranean forests along with high mountain landscapes that rapidly give way to semi-arid areas with an almost lunar look to them. The region takes its name from the Rio Oja, the watercourse that sustains this fertile landscape and many of the vineyards through which you’ll be walking.
Gastronomy and Wine
The Ebro River basin provides the kitchen table with all manner of fruit and vegetables. Asparagus, peppers, artichokes and other vegetables are the staples. Typical dishes are potatoes "a la riojana" or vegetable stew, the famous lamb cutlets with vine shoots and delicious sweets "fardelejos" made with almonds, eggs and sugar), marzipan and pears in wine. These lands sown with vines produce one of the most esteemed wines in Spain, Rioja, with its own Designation of Origin standard. Whites, rosés and especially reds accompany and form part of this rich gastronomy.
DAY 1 Transfer from Bilbao to Najera
Najera was once the capital of Navarre in the 11th century. Enjoy an evening stroll to see the magnificent Monasterio Santa Maria de la Real with its Royal Pantheon, Knights Cloister and Museum, also its ancient Castle. The Plazas de España and Navarra have a variety of bars and restaurants.
DAY 2 Navarette to Najera 17kms
An early transfer to Navarette allows you to make your first vineyard visit to the Bodegas Corrales for a special tasting tour. Thereafter, you'll be Walking the Camino de Santiago, passing along the main street of Navarette. This historic Camino town has original period houses with carved family crests, arcaded and cobbled streets and lively plazas with bars and cafes. The path then becomes a track of bright red Riojan earth, continuing through farmland and vineyards back to Najera.
DAY 3 Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada 21kms
The majority of today's walk is on wonderful wide country tracks, through remote and undulating farmland. The Way continues past notable medieval way-markers, ancient pilgrim fountains and little villages. Santo Domingo is intrinsically linked with the Camino, named for Saint Dominic who dedicated his life to this pilgrims’ road. He built the Cathedral as well as the pilgrim hospital which today houses the Parador. The town is a fascinating network of medieval streets housing a variety of bars and restaurants.
DAY 4 Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Ezcaray 13kms
The walk continues through farmland with views east and west to mountain ranges, following the valley of the River Oja. This is a tributary of the Ebro, one of Spain's main watercourses, which feeds the vineyards of La Rioja and flows all the way to the Mediterranean. In fact, the region of La Rioja takes its name from the Rio Oja. In a valley of the Sierra de la Demanda mountains, on the banks of the Rio Oja, sits the charming little town of Ezcaray.
DAY 5 Ezcaray
The town of Ezcaray and its surrounding area are ideal for those who seek rest and peace and quiet. This area around the little town is made up of striking mountain scenery with streams, forests and peaks over 2,000 metres high.
Following breakfast at your hotel restaurant, we recommend a circular walk from the hotel offering fine views of this beautiful valley. The route allows for relaxation time before another excellent dining experience. Ezcaray is a highly regarded gourmet town, offering exceptional quality and choice.
The Echaurren Experience
A great chance not only to sample the exquisite creations from the 2 star Michelin kitchen of Francis Paniego, but also an opportunity to see behind the scenes. Francis (recently the winner of Millesime Chef 2012) runs his avant-garde kitchen side by side with the more traditional Riojan kitchen started by his mother. You'll be taken into the kitchen, where the creative process is explained. Sous chefs are hard at work and their spheres of responsibilty are explained.
Following this fascinating glimpse of what makes one of the most renowned kitchens in Spain tick on a daily basis, you'll be able to enjoy the amazing tasting menu. A meal that comprises of between 8 and 11 dishes, all showcasing the locally sourced produce that Francis uses to create his impressions of the surrounding landscape.
Optional Michelin Cookery Class (min. group of 6)
By prior arrangement, your day begins with a cooking class and demonstrations by the well-respected owner-chef of our hotel, Francis Paniego, or one of his highly-skilled apprentices. You'll prepare a classic Riojan dish, using traditional techniques and ingredients, or perhaps a signature Paniego creation. For lunch you'll enjoy a tasting menu which includes several dishes you've helped prepare. With your new-found skills, you will be able to relive your Spanish exploration over traditional dishes and fine Rioja wine when you return home. You may wish to take a short easy walk in the afternoon, or if you prefer, have time to explore the town of Ezcaray independently. For those who choose not to participate in the cooking class, a 4/5 hour scenic hike with views of the Rio Oja valley is available as indicated above. Price on application.
DAY 6 Ezcaray to Monasterio de San Millán de la Cogollo, Yuso 17kms
This walk out of the village of Ezcaray takes you through the Rio Oja valley, then steadily up to the tiny hamlet of Turza, continuing through oak and beech woods to the isolated village of Pazuengos, then finally descending to reach the valley of San Millán de la Cogolla.
In the middle of the Cárdenas river valley sits the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site of "El Monasterio de San Millán de la Cogolla". This Rioja town was founded by the saint of the same name and linked for centuries to the Pilgrim's Route to Santiago de Compostela. The deep-rooted monastic tradition of the town can be seen in the beautiful collection of historic buildings it houses, where the sibling Monasteries of Suso and Yuso are outstanding. The importance of San Millán de la Cogolla is also due to its status as the cradle of the Spanish tongue, since the first documents written in this language are preserved here.
DAY 7 San Millan de la Cogolla to Najera 15kms
Today’s walk from San Millan takes you through vineyards on the Route of the Monasteries, which eventually rejoins the Camino at Najera. You'll have great views north to Sierra Cantabria and its "sleeping lion" outline. The walk allows plenty of time to enjoy your pre-arranged vineyard visit en route, at the renowned Bodegas David Moreno in Badaran.
DAY 8 Bilbao Transfer
Transfer by taxi from Najera to Bilbao/Bilbao Airport. If time permits, why not visit the Guggenheim Museum and its world class collection of avant-garde art.
Just two of the highlights of the trip are Hotel Echuarren in Ezcaray and the Hospederia of San Millan.
The Hotel Echaurren boasts three restaurants, including one of the finest restaurants in Spain. El Portal was the first in La Rioja to gain a Michelin Star. During the next two days you will have the opportunity to taste both traditional and cutting-edge modern Rioja dishes prepared by the hotel's talented chefs, Michelin-starred Francis Paniego, and his mother, Marisa Sánchez.
We've included Echaurren 'Experience' for you! A unique opportunity to see behind the scenes as the chefs prepare the daily menu. For lunch or your evening meal you'll enjoy a tasting menu include several dishes you've helped prepare.
The Hospederia of the Monasterio San Millan de la Cogolla is simply outstanding. The hotel is accommodated within a wing of this architectural and historical gem. Your sumptuous surroundings will be remembered for a long time to come and the dining here is of the highest standard. You may also have the chance to visit the wine cellars before beginning another memorable dining experience.
The Echaurren Experience
Take part in an extraordinary culinary experience at the Hotel Echaurren, where you'll see Michelin star chef, Francis Paniego and his team at work. After spending some time in the heat of the kitchen, you can then relax and sample several mouth-watering delights from Paniego’s Tasting Menu.
What You Said...
"We enjoyed the holiday very much. The accomodation was very good, particularly the Parador at St Domingo and the Monastery at St Millan. Breakfasts were good at all the hotels. Baggage transfer was efficient and our cases had been delivered by the time we arrived at every hotel. The holiday was well organised and as usual you were most helpful when we called or emailed you. The information pack was well produced and very helpful. We will definitely be booking the Andalusian Festival in El Burgo in February 2013."
Graham and Christina, England
"Fiona and I had a great time and many thanks to the planning that went in from Frontier, which all went very smoothly and assisted greatly in allowing us to have a stress free and enjoyable week.
The Hotel Echuarren was superb. The room was fantastic, I have stayed in hotels all over the world and the layout, the bed and the facilities in the room was on par with some of the best I have stayed in. The Parador Santo Domingo was very professional, lovely room and great breakfast.
The Tasting at the Echuarren was excellent. This is the first time we have had a tasting which offered a selection of wines as a taster to compliment the food. The variety of food, the difference from the traditional kitchen and the overall ambiance was fantastic. You should not have this as an option on your walk, this is a must!
The David Moreno Tour was so intimate and full of passion. What a great vineyard and bodega, we thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the wine.
The two walks on the Camino de Santiago were great, and have inspired us to the whole route. It allowed an insight into the walk, the camaraderie of the people on the walk, and the various sights, sounds and different flora on the two stretches of the walk we did."
Alan & Fiona, Javea, Spain
At a glance...
Date: All year availability
Cost: From £850 per person, based on two sharing, 7 nights (B&B). Flights not inc.
Excellent quality. Choose from Bed & Breakfast or Half Board Accommodation. Baggage transfers, Bodega visits and Kitchen experience with Taster menu included.
Bilbao Airport Recommended, Flights & Airport Transfers Not Included
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