My perfect day starts with a lovely breakfast: a glass of orange juice, a crunchy croissant and a piping hot, creamy café con leche in the oldest café in Haro’s main square, soaking up the atmosphere alongside the locals.
Now, its time to get over to the railway district of the town where Rioja wine was really born, and take a short tour of one of the original Rioja wineries founded over 100 years ago. This is a great intro to the wine-making process with lots to learn about fermentation and oak ageing and the various different qualities of wine being made. Perhaps see a cooper at work, eggs being readied for the clarification of the wine or the natural penicillin mold that lines the cool cellar walls. Finish off with the first wine tasting of the day.
Then its off to some serious business to take in one of the modern architectural wonders of the region in a winery designed in 1997 by the Basque architect Iñaki Aspiazu. This is a great chance to see how gravity is used to assist wine-making in the traditional way as the forming wine passes down from floor to floor on its way from grape to bottle. Another great tasting of these modern style Rioja wines before lunch in the winery’s restaurant with panoramic views over the vineyards. This is not an experience I like to hurry, indulging in 5 courses of regional specialities to taste accompanied by 4 superb wines.
As the afternoon wears on there is just enough time to make one more visit and this time I favour a small family run winery, hidden away within the caves of one of Rioja’s fascinating walled hill towns. The cellar here is deep underground and the wines of a more traditional style as they do not de-stem their grapes.
After returning to the hotel for a shower and change I have a difficult decision to make – whether to dine in the hotel’s excellent restaurant or treat myself to a tour of the tapas bars of the Haro’s tapas horseshoe. With a choice of 14 tapas bars on this U-shaped street which makes up the horseshoe, most of the tapas bars have their own speciality and they are very proud to make theirs the best in town. And this is another great opportunity to try wines from smaller producers as each bar is eager to promote their own favourite.
Early or late to bed I know I will have had a fantastic day!