Food & Wine in Northern Spain: 7-Day Exploration for Three Couples

It is said that the refined Spaniard drinks wine with everything. You, too, can join the ranks of “refined Spaniard” with this 7-day trip for three couples through Northern Spain. With a balance of planned activities and free time to explore, this trip contains the highlights of Rioja and the Basque Country combined with amazing culinary experiences and outstanding wines. Here’s what you can expect…

Day 1: Welcome to Northern Spain! 

After arriving at the Bilbao airport, you will meet your friendly chauffeur and head to La Rioja and your home base for the next three days, Medieval Laguardia.

 

Founded in the 10th century as a defense town for the kingdom of Navarra, Laguardia, is a charming hamlet located on a hill overlooking the vineyards, with the Cantabrian Mountains in the background. It is without a doubt the most attractive town of the region. Enjoy the walk through the cobblestone streets and try out a coffee or cheeky aperitif before class.

 

Did we say class? Yes! Enjoy a Rioja wine masterclass with local sommelier, Mikel, in his ancient family home, one of the oldest in the village. Learn all about Rioja before you explore the wineries in the coming days and taste some fantastic wines too!

 

Palacia de Samaniego

We hope you are quick learners, because your next appointment is at the wine estate of Sierra Cantabria. Since 1870, a period spanning five generations, the Eguren family has been dedicated to cultivating vines and producing and ageing of the best wines of La Rioja. There you will enjoy a special lunch paired with fantastic estate wines while overlooking the vineyards.

 

After lunch it is a short drive to your resort, Palacio de Samaniego. The first Edmond de Rothschild Heritage property abroad, the Palacio de Samaniego is a secret oasis. With just nine rooms and suites, a French-Basque restaurant, terraced garden, and swimming facilities, every stay here is an experience like no other. Enjoy your time here and marvel how the artwork, dotted throughout highlights the contrast between the age-old stone and modern interior design.

 

 

 

Day 2: Rioja Tasting and Traditional Lunch

Today’s itinerary begins at Finca Valpiedra. Following the classic Bordeaux style with a single vineyard focus, Finca Valpiedra is located on one of the most spectacular meanders of the Ebro River. There you’ll enjoy a tour and private tasting with beautiful views overlooking the terraced property and the river.

 

Viñedos del Contino

Your next appointment takes place at Viñedos del Contino, the first Rioja château concept winery. Founded in 1973, its 16th-century cave cellars are amongst the oldest in the Rioja region. They are home to the echoes of deeply rooted winemaking tradition, blended with the voices of cutting-edge technologies. Enjoy a tour and tasting of flagship wines.

 

Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll head to Torre de Oña. There you’ll enjoy a private VIP tasting of the elegantly modern style Riojas and a wonderful, traditional lunch in the private dining room overlooking the wine barrels on one side and vineyards on the other. Rioja’s flagship grape, Tempranillo, is the backbone of all of the wines from Torre de Oña.

 

After lunch your driver can take you to some nice photo ops around the hamlet, like a neolithic dolmen or a panoramic look out point over the vines.

 

 

Day 3:  Fine Wines of Rioja 

La Rioja Alta

As a lover of Rioja, you are in for a treat. Head to “Barrio de Estacion,” (the street where many wineries are located) for a tasting at La Rioja Alta. Having been in the business for more than 130 years, this family-run winery embodies both staunch traditionalism and modern techniques when it comes to winemaking. Don’t miss the flagship Gran Reserva 904 or its twin, Gran Reserva 890.

 

 

Next is a visit with the Best Winery of the Year according to the Verema 2023 Awards. Bodegas RODA, the producer of some of the most delectable and sought-after red wines in Rioja! Tour the vineyard, with an aperitif and snacks in the vines, of course, and finish with a tasting of RODA, CIRSION, and their excellent Arbequina based olive oil, Dauro.

 

You can expect stellar food, wine, service, and ambience at your lunch destination, Lumbre. Much more than a gastronomic proposal, Lumbre is a meeting point between traditional food and new cuisine, led by Chef Sergio Hernando Diez. Enjoy a mouthwatering Mediterranean meal at this beautiful stone manor house in the quaint hamlet of Casalrreina.

 

 

 

Day 4:  Rioja, Cheese, Pintxos 

First up for the day is more wine! Enjoy a tour and tasting at the stellar Remírez de Ganuza estate. Respected and revered by his neighbors, the wines of Fernando Remírez De Ganuza have become something of a modern legend in Rioja, favored by such discerning critics as Julio Iglesias and the Spanish Royal family. Here you’ll experience sublime wines and a state-of-the-art winery. Here they merge modernity with tradition within lovely historic buildings. The Bodega is a sight to behold, as the surrounding area has been compared to Tuscany before the world discovered it.

 

Next is a visit to the charming Queseria Ondarre, where you’ll meet Eneko. He is a charming and humble cheese farmer with great English and a lovely manner, not to mention amazing cheese! Enjoy a tasting of his Idiazábal sheep’s milk cheeses accompanied with Riojan wine.

Lasala Plaza Hotel

 

Afterwards, it is off to the coast and San Sebastián, one of Spain’s most beautiful towns. Your driver will take on a panoramic drive to admire the most striking views on the Bay of Biscay and drop you off at your accommodations, Lasala Plaza Hotel. Facing a port and dating back hundreds of years, Lasala Plaza embraces and highlights the best of Donostia-San Sebastián: its culture, its love of gastronomy and the sea, the art of knowing how to live and, above all, its people.

 

In the evening you will embark on an utterly magical culinary tour of the finest pintxo bars (Pintxo is a Basque term for tapas) led by a passionate local food guide. Weaving through the endless labyrinth of streets in Parte Vieja, your guide’s energy for their native city is infectious as they open up a historical city, brimming with delightful food, fun, wine, and a justifiable fixation on pintxos!

 

 

Day 5: Basque France & Ikaitz

Today it is off for a leisurely day of sightseeing in France! Begin with a visit to quaint Saint-Jean-de-Luzin the French Basque Country, where you can walk on the beach or stroll around the port with its darling gourmet shops and nautical boutiques. You’ll also visit elegant Biarritz, another elegant seaside town on southwestern France’s Basque coast. Your driver knows all the good beaches, markets, and photo spots. Lunch is on your own (with our suggestions of course).

Saint-Jean-de-Luzin

San Sebastian, (with time permitting) stop for an early evening aperitif in the coastal town of Hondarribiaone of the prettiest towns in the Basque Country.

 

Receive a warm welcome for your dinner at Restaurante Ikaitz in Sans Sebastián. Hailed as the best kept secret in town, this Basque style Spanish cuisine is a trip-defining food experience. The restaurant is quiet, intimate, and tucked away underground. The food is exquisite, and the presentation is gorgeous and artistic. You’ll also enjoy wine pairings with your meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6: Txakoli Wine and Lunch Extravaganza

Txakoli is the snappy white wine of the northern Atlantic coast in Spain’s Basque country. It shares flavor spectrums with its neighbors, Albariño from Rías Baixas to the west and Cava (Penedès) to southeast. Your first stop is a visit to the scenic vineyards of Txakoli Gaintza, a family-run, ecologically conscious estate where you’ll taste their wines paired with Basque goodies.

 

While passing by, don’t miss coastal Getaria. Set between the sea and vine-covered mountains, Getaria has a privileged position that makes it a destination not to be missed if visiting nearby San Sebastián. A special lunch awaits you at the legendary Rekondo. Everyone who sits around the tables at Rekondo enjoys a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience that will always live in their memories. Known for their charming terrace setting and traditional cuisine, the Rekondo wine cellar was announced as one of the best restaurant wine cellars in the world by Wine Spectator. Thousands of the best bottles of wine are hidden underneath its foundation and are available for you to order (pay direct).

 

Your final evening in San Sebastián is free of appointments, but chances are you’ll be back in Old Town searching for that one pintxo bar that you just have to experience one more time before leaving!

 

 

Day 7: Guggenheim & Departure 

Today you head back to Bilbao for your return trip to the states. Depending on your travel plans, you might be able to visit to the world-famous Guggenheim Museum before your flight! Then it is off to the airport where you’ll depart from Spain with memories of your unforgettable experiences as a newly minted “Refined Spaniard.”

 

 

This 7-day/6-night trip for 3 couples includes:

•              3 nights at Palacia de Samaniego in Rioja with breakfast

•              3 nights at Lasala Plaza Hotel in San Sebastian with breakfast

•              7 private winery tours and premium tastings

•              4 lunches with wine

•              2 dinners with wine

•              1 dinner

•              1 private Rioja wine masterclass with tasting

•              1 food/pintxo tour with wine

•              1 visit to cheese farm with wine

•              1 panoramic Driving Tour in San Sebastian

•              All transfers as per the itinerary by professional English-speaking chauffeur driving a luxury van

 

Please note:  The itinerary presented is a complete trip for three couples. You can customize your itinerary, upgrade your accommodations or add additional days. Work with Nashville Wine Auction staff after the auction to book and/or upgrade your trip. Additional costs over what is listed above are the responsibility of the buyer(s). Please contact Nashville Wine Auction staff with potential travel dates to verify supplier availability before booking flights.

 

Restrictions: Itinerary subject to change based on availability at time of booking. Trip does not include airfare/train travel, additional meals, drinks, and transfers not specified in the itinerary. Personal expenses, tips and gratuities, travel insurance (strongly recommended) are also not included. For best availability of suppliers, a minimum of three months advance notice of selected dates is required. Please contact Nashville Wine Auction staff with potential travel dates to verify supplier availability before booking flights. Trip restrictions apply, see Trip Guidelines in the Auction Rules and Reference section of the catalog.