Wine tours by distance from San Sebastian
Choose your tour based on how much time you have. There are many options to discover wine on tours from San Sebastian. And my recommendation is to drive or take public transport.
Only a few hours to spare
For Txakoli, go to Getaria
Only 30 minutes away en route to Bilbao. Besides being known for Txakoli, Getaria has great beaches, and the Balenciaga Museum.
Cider is minutes away from the centre of San Sebastian
Fresh cider from the barrel is more wine than beer. Astigarraga, Hernani, Urnieta, and Usúrbil, are all just outside San Sebastian. The area has over 50 authentic cider houses and you should not pass up the chance to experience something so uniquely Basque. Here is an easy and helpful guide for your discovery of cider.
Half a day
For Txakoli, go to Bizkaia
Only 60 minutes from San Sebastian, combine this wine tour with a trip to Bilbao or San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
A full day trip
For Txakoli, head to Araba (Alava)
90 minutes from San Sebastian, this is the western-most part of Basque Country. The small, family owned wineries are in the towns of Aiara, Amurrio, Artziniega, Laudio, and Okondo.
More than a day (ideally two days)
For red wines, La Rioja is your destination
Depending on the town, you could be in La Rioja between 90 – 120 minutes from San Sebastian. The main towns are Haro, Logroño, and Laguardia. See this handy itinerary for La Rioja.
The famous Marques de Riscal winery and hotel is in Elciego. Other towns are Sajazarra, Labastida, Villabuena de Álava, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, and Briones.
For wine and medieval castles.
Go to the Navarre region for wine and history. About 2 hours away from San Sebastian, this region has Pamplona as the centre. But this trip will be more for the history and culture than for the wine.
The wines are good but not as famous as Rioja. The wine towns are Baja Montaña, Ribera Alta, and Ribera Baja. The famous castles are Olite, Javier and Monasterio de Leyre.
South West France
For a flavour of French wines, you can go all the way to Bordeaux which is 3 hours away from San Sebastian. Stay the night in Bordeaux and return the next evening, stopping at wineries in Irouléguy, Chalosse, or Béarn.
Focus on Txakoli and Cider
You are in Basque country and in here our unique drinks are Txakoli and Cider. Increase your of knowledge of Basque culture and do tours to Txakoli wineries and cider houses. Red wine, however great, you will find in so many other countries.
There are many places for Txakoli and Cider within an hour or less away from San Sebastian. Just ask around where you stay and they will guide you. You need only half a day.
For transport, I would recommend taking a taxi. It may be slightly expensive but it is worth the convenience of not having to drive after drinking, or waiting for public transport.
Rioja over French wine region.
From San Sebastian, I advise traveling to La Rioja in Spain and not the French wine region.
Take a tour
If you do not know the region, I consider the best way to visit La Rioja is with a tour. They will surely quote you in Haro or Logroño and then take you to the chosen area. Normally a tour lasts a day, but there are so many wineries that that is your choice.
A tour covers everything
It is possible to hire an organized tour that proposes a trip to different wineries. An organized tour will take care of all the details, with a detailed schedule, guided tour of the wineries, in English, ticket purchases where required, food, etc.
With a tour, you will get to see a mix of large wineries, modern wineries, classic wineries.
Combine tours with other sights
There are wineries throughout La Rioja and Rioja Alavesa. It is best to visit those that are closer to your accommodation or take advantage to know to do tourism in the region while visiting.
Do not visit La Rioja wineries as a day trip
I do not recommend La Rioja wine tours as day trips from San Sebastian because it take at least 2 hours of travel each way to get to a decent winery in La Rioja region. In reality you could be on the road for 5 hours or more. So you need a 2 days trip to make it worth the visit from San Sebastian to La Rioja.
Focus on Txakoli
If you are keen to see a wine region from San Sebastian I would recommend focus on Txakoli the traditional white wine of the area.
There are many wineries for Txakoli on the Basque Coast, between Getaria and Bakio. Here is a great link for Txakoli wineries in Getaria.
If you are not too hung up on visiting wineries, go to the traditional cider houses for fresh cider from the barrel. They are closer to San Sebastian.
La Rioja tours are best done from Bilbao
La Rioja tours for the world famous red wines are best done starting from Bilbao. Also, make sure that you make reservations well in advance because La Rioja wineries do not entertain walk-ins for tastings.
And keep in mind that Txakoli wineries are not much to look at, compared to those in La Rioja. They are also much smaller.
It is certainly possible to visit the best La Rioja wineries from San Sebastian. There are many towns to stay in La Rioja but in my view, you should stay in either Logrono, Haro, or Laguardia if you do not have a car. These 3 towns are connected from San Sebastian by bus, and each of them has enough wine experiences around it.
Laguardia, in particular, is the most beautiful and charming town for me in the entire region, but with limited wine-centric things to do (just one bodega) without a car. A nice place to spend a couple of nights is Hotel Posada Mayor de Migueloa or Castillo El Collado, inside the walled city.
Haro is the central town for wine commerce and wineries (Muga and Bodegas Bilbainas) within walking distance and good food. The Barrio around the station - Barrio de la Estación - is famous for its many wineries all located next to each other! Bodegas Muga even offers walk-in tours and tastings. Hotel Los Agustinos in Haro offers good accommodation.
Logrono is known to be the starting point for the Vinobus tours and also has great wine experiences that you can walk to. But certainly, Logrono is not as charming as Laguardia. For accommodation consider Hotel AC La Rioja.