7 Essential tips to plan La Rioja winery visits
1. Make a booking
The first thing to remember is that Rioja wineries need bookings for a visit. And most bodegas will first take you on a tour before the tasting. So unlike in California or Australia, it is not common to turn up at a winery to taste their wine. No bodegas of La Rioja will accommodate a walk-in visit!
Driving around the wineries and towns of La Rioja is a good (ideal) way to see the region because the most interesting wineries are located off the public transport routes. So renting a car is my recommendation. If you really cannot drive for some reason, consider public transport, a wine tour, or a Vinobus tour (see point 6 below).
3. Make a base
The triangle of Haro, LaGuardia, and Elciego is where you will find most of the wineries. If you have your own car, You can base yourself in any of the Rioja town. However, if you do not have access to your own car, I would suggest you make Logroño town as your base station.
4. Don't rush
You must budget at least 2 days while drawing your Rioja itinerary.
5. Take a tour
It is better to book a wine tour. Remember to ask about tours in English when you make your reservation because the default language in Spanish!
But of course my practical favourite way of getting the best wine tasting and seeing many wineries is to take the Vino Bus of Rioja Alta region. This way everyone can drink and nobody needs to drive!
7. Best time to visit
September (and weekends) is the best time to go to La Rioja wineries. During the month of September, the region celebrates grape harvest festivals.