La Rioja Weekend: A Girls’ Wine And Architecture Weekend In Spain

Bodega Ysios - La Rioja Weekend |

Thinking about exploring Spain’s wine country and doing a weekend in La Rioja? Last winter my sister-in-law (aka cuñada) and I went up to La Rioja for a long weekend of wine, architecture, and culture. We drove up on a Friday late morning and then came back Sunday night and drove up to Bilbao so we could go to the Guggenheim. We had a lovely time visiting some great wineries, seeing amazing architecture, and eating lots of pintxos. It was winter so all the vines were sleeping (ha) so we would love to return during harvest and see La Rioja in its full glory. 

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Now for our La Rioja weekend adventures:

We left Madrid late morning on a Friday of a long weekend. It took approximately 4.5 hours and we arrived at 400-plus-year-old Restaurante Hotel Posada Mayor de Migueloa. It’s located in the walled city of Laguardia which is where we were based for the whole weekend.


Because Laguardia is a walled city, we had to find parking just outside of the wall. Make note of this if you are lugging a lot of luggage or gear because you will have to carry or wheel it yourself if you’re staying inside the wall. My sister-in-law and I had small carry-on bags with wheels which were fine but maybe more convenient to have bigger backpacks. We deposited our bags and then got ready to go to the first winery. We spoke with our hotel hoping to arrange a taxi or car service that would bring us to the wineries but this was not going to happen since it was a holiday in Spain and the taxi company was closed. 

La Rioja Weekend - Laguardia Spain |

We stayed in Laguardia which is a walled city in La Rioja 

Restaurante Hotel Posada Mayor de Migueloa
Our first winery was Marques de Riscal. If you want to see a serious Spanish wine operation, you must come here. It was amazing. I think it would be on the level of visiting something like Mondavi in California. It was huge and they had many tours happening in several languages. We joined in on the English tour and walked the grounds and of course tasted a handful of wines. I’m not a big white wine drinker but Rueda Verdugo was so delicious. 

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If you are a lover of architecture you will appreciate the hotel designed by starchitect Frank Gehry that is on the property, as well as the Michelin-starred restaurant that is helmed by Francis Paniego. The hotel is a Luxury Collection by Starwood so you could potentially book this on points. I did not know this otherwise I would have treated ourselves to a night!

Marques de Riscal - La Rioja Weekend |

Marques de Riscal Winery in El Ciego 

Marques de Riscal - La Rioja Weekend |

Marques de Riscal - La Rioja Weekend |

Marques de Riscal - La Rioja Weekend |

Marques de Riscal - La Rioja Weekend |

Marques de Riscal - La Rioja Weekend |
After our visit to Marques de Riscal, we drove to Ollauri to visit a smaller winery called Conde de Los Andes. It was recommended to us by my sister in law’s workmate who is a sommelier. It’s a family-run winery that started over 400 years ago and built underground in caves. We arrived a bit early so we popped into a bar and had a snack and sadly, I did not take down the name of the bar but the jamon was the best thing I ate all weekend. 

Once the previous tour was done our tour guide met us and took us through the caves and then, of course, we sampled wines in the tasting room. Beside us were a family of parents and two little girls. So parents! Don’t be afraid to visit wineries with your children. Children are so loved in Spain and are often at bars and restaurants late at night with parents. Life doesn’t end because you have family in Spain. It is awesome! 


Jamon near Bodegas Conde de los Andes |

So I can’t remember the name of the bar where we ate this but it’s near Conde de Los Andes in Ollauri. Sooo good!

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Bodegas Conde De Los Andes - La Rioja Weekend |
After we came back to Laguardia from Ollauri we found a parking spot so we decided to just eat within the wall for dinner. We walked down the road from our hotel and popped into a very casual bar but I won’t recommend it since we had an abysmal dinner. There is a pintxos bar next to our hotel called Errioxako Batzokia that we loved. We went there for our breakfast and coffee but we should have come here for dinners as well. 
The following day we drove north to Bilbao for the day to go to the Guggenheim and eat more pintxos. I will be making a separate post otherwise this one will be too long! So keep an eye out as I will be linking it here soon!

On Sunday morning we woke up had breakfast and then drove to Bodega Ysios which is in the next town over of El Ciego. We tried to book a winery tour but it was fully booked when we were planning and when we drove by it was still closed. It didn’t matter to me since I am a huge fan of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and I was just happy to shoot photos of the outside of the winery. 

Bodega Ysios - La Rioja Weekend |

After shooting photos at Ysios we made our way to Bodegas Lecea in San Asensio. It was another small family-run winery that was recommended to my sister in law by her sommelier workmate. Our tour guide was one of the daughters who told us she left and lived in South America and then ended up coming back and is now working at her family’s winery. We went underground into the caves and then of course sample the wines before heading back south to Madrid. 

If I could have added one more winery to our list I would have added Bodegas López de Heredia Viña Todonia in Haro. The store and tasting room were redesigned by the late great starchitect Zaha Hadid. Had we visited it would have been the ultimate starchitect winery weekend! Next time! 


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