D.O. Rioja is the most well-known of Spain’s wine regions. It has the largest number of wineries and is one of the oldest wine-producing regions of Spain. Its close proximity to Basque Country makes a wine tour from San Sebastian to Rioja very possible. Not only is La Rioja a neighbor to the Basques, but part of DO Rioja is actually located inside the perimeters of the Basque Country. San Sebastián is just 1.5 hours by car from Haro, the capital of Rioja wine.
The Rioja wines fall under a Denominación de Origen that was created in 1926 and produces still wines of high quality (red, white, and rosé) and even some cava. The main grape varieties used are tempranillo (the queen of grapes in Spain), garnacha, mazuelo (cariñena), and graciano. For white wines, viura (macabeo), malvasía, and garnacha blanca are used.
Among the cultural highlights of Rioja is its capital, Logroño, a beautiful and tranquil city on the Camino de Santiago and excellent for enjoying tapas (check out Calle Laurel). Between Logroño and Haro, the landscapes are beautiful, as are many of the medieval towns: Laguardia, Elciego, Sajazarra, Labastida, Villabuena de Álava, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, and Briones. The latter has one of the best wine museums in the world.
The competition between wineries has surpassed the wine and extended into new areas like architecture, marketing, hospitality, etc. For this reason, there is currently a strong focus on wine tourism in Rioja.