Culinary Tour to La Rioja & Basque Country, Spain

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Tapas, flamenco, cava, breathtaking landscapes, and incredibly welcoming people, Spain has it all! I love every facet of Spain, but the one region that is most near and dear to my heart is the incredible wine region, Rioja. Situated in north-central Spain, just south of Bilbao and the coastal resort town of San Sebastian, Rioja and the neighboring Basque country are still a relatively undiscovered but up-and-coming travel destination and most certainly, my favorite!

Rioja's stunning beauty, rich Spanish culture, and delicious food and wine are just the start.

It's the perfect place for those of us wanting to immerse ourselves in Spanish culture in a stunningly beautiful agricultural region. Plus, La Rioja region and Basque country have some the best wines and unbelievably delicious tapas.

We'll stay in a beautifully restored noble house, in the heart of La Rioja Alta in northern Spain, just south of Bilbao and 10 minutes from Haro where you will find El Barrio de la Estación (the golden mile of the Rioja Wine). This charming hotel, with unique and meticulously appointed rooms, will be the perfect place for us to take in the Spanish lifestyle and unwind at the end of each day!

Throughout the week, we can explore the Basque Country, enjoy a tour with an extraordinary olive oil producer, discover and taste extraordinary Tempranillo and Albarino wines at world-class wineries like Roda and Muga, and of course, we'll cook up a storm!

There is so much to see, and we'll need some free time to explore the majestic city of San Sebastián. Here, you will meander along its famous boardwalk to take in the views of the Cantabrian Sea and pristine beaches.  Or perhaps you'll head straight for the Old Town, where you can gaze at the gorgeous neoclassical architecture in the square before selecting a bar to enjoy the best pintxos with a glass of wine.

We could head to my friend's restaurant, where I'll teach you how to make some of my favorite Spanish recipes, like succulent fire-grilled lamb chops and patatas bravas with spicy tomato sauce and creamy allioli.  Or we can join a local chef to make paella over an open flame, and enjoy a Spanish-style picnic along the river bank!

If you've never been to Spain, this trip might just change your life. And if you've been before and you love Spain as much as I do, come with me to La Rioja!

* Price based on double occupancy. Limited availability for sIngle occupancy rooms. Single supplement charge of $1500.00US  applies for solo travelers. Airfare not included. Deposit of $2000.00US per person required to secure a spot. See tour terms here.

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We'll stay at my dear friends' beautifully restored 17th-century boutique hotel, the Hospedería Teatrisso, situated in the small medieval village of Cuzcurrita-Río Tirón in the La Rioja Region and surrounded by the best wine cellars of Europe.

This noble house has been lovingly renovated into a stunning hotel. During the 20s and 30s, the proprietors projected black and white films on the salon's walls, and villagers frequently stopped by for theatre plays and ballroom dancing. Each of the 12 rooms has a different decoration following a common theme: cinema, theater, literature, and music. Our hosts, Laura and José, make everyone feel at home thanks to their impeccable service and charm.

In addition to modern amenities, including free Wi-Fi and delicious, homemade breakfasts, the hotel is ideally situated just minutes from Haro, the center of wine production for La Rioja.

Prepare to be inspired by the incredible quality of ingredients we'll have at our fingertips! The Ebro, flowing from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean south of Barcelona, is one of Spain's most famous rivers, accounting for the region's legendary fertility, which explains the world-class wine, smokey piquillo peppers, and many other remarkable fruits and vegetables—asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, cauliflower, and more. Oh, and wait until you taste the Jamón Serrano and Ibérico!

Our week will include hands-on cooking classes in the kitchen of my friend's local restaurant, where I will teach you some of my favorite Spanish recipes. Imagine succulent lamb chops grilled over the open fire, patatas bravas with spicy tomato sauce, and creamy allioli. And I have to teach you to make the perfect potato tortilla, a classic any-time-of day anywhere-in-Spain tapa. 
It's fall and the perfect time to make either gazpacho or salmorejo with the sweetest tomatoes we'll pick in my friend Mariangeles's garden. Then, we'll head to the banks of the Oja River to prepare a traditional Valencian paella cooked outside over an open flame! 


My friends, Angel and Mariangeles, grew up in La Rioja and just so happened to own the top restaurant in La Rioja. Along with another dear friend, Ignacio, they'll be the perfect guides- sharing their favorite places with extra special surprises!
The itinerary will be packed, and don't worry; we will enjoy a little tapas bar hopping! We'll taste our way through the streets of Logroño, a town known for some of the best small plates in Spain. Then, get ready to taste some fantastic wines. The white wines made with the Viura grape are delicious, and the red wines from the Tempranillo grape are legendary. We will be sure to visit a few of the best wineries. 

Additionally, we'll have some incredible day trips to places like Laguardia, a walled medieval city and the gateway to experiencing the La Rioja wine region. There, we will find a 12th-century church with dramatic architectural detail and sweeping views before our special lunch at an extraordinary winery. Another day, we could visit the famous Bodegas Dinastía Vivanco, a winery estate boasting the most extensive wine museum in the world. It holds thousands of new and old wine artifacts and a collection of 6000 corkscrews.

There is so much to see, and we'll need some free time to explore the majestic city of San Sebastián. Here, you can meander along its famous boardwalk to take in the views of the Cantabrian Sea and pristine beaches. Or perhaps you'll head straight for the Old Town, where you can gaze at the gorgeous neoclassical architecture in the square before selecting a bar (or two or three!) to enjoy the best pintxos with a glass of wine. We could also take a walking tour of Pamplona or visit an extraordinary olive oil producer. 

I don't want to give away too many surprises, but typical to the Spanish zest for life, our last evening's celebration will be over-the-top, so all I can say is, rest up!

The group meeting point in Bilbao for pick-up is Gran Hotel Domine, located across the street from the Guggenheim Museum, an extraordinary museum designed by Frank Gehry. The group drop-off location is Bilbao Airport (BIO). Our driver will meet the group for pick-up at approximately 4:30pm on the first day of the tour, and drop-off is on the morning of the final day of the tour. The precise timing of the group transfers will be confirmed before the tour dates.

We highly recommend flying in early and spending an additional night in Bilbao before our journey. This will help you adjust to the time differences and provide a buffer from any travel delays.  The tour begins with a welcome reception on the evening of the first day and concludes with breakfast and a return group transfer on the final day.

A non-refundable deposit of $2000.00 US per person is required to register for this tour. See the Terms and Conditions for details. A single supplement charge applies for solo travelers. The tour price includes accommodations, cooking classes, excursions and day trips, wine and tastings, and meals (excluding one or two). The package price does not include airfare. Final payments are to be made by personal check or money order to avoid additional surcharge. See the Tour Terms and Conditions for more details.

We strongly recommended that participants obtain travel insurance. Please note that travel insurance policies and their provisions vary greatly.

During this tour, we are committed to following Federal, State, and local health guidelines to the best of our ability.