Last updated on February 27th, 2017
You’ve likely heard of the La Rioja wine region in Spain. It’s one of my favorite wine growing regions in Spain. There are more than 500 wineries in La Rioja, many of which welcome visitors. We’ve written about our favorite wineries to visit in Rioja before, but this time we wanted to narrow it down even further and focus on the small town of Haro, Spain, considered to be the wine capital of La Rioja.
It is in Haro that you’ll find some of the oldest and largest wineries of the area, all of which, in my opinion, are not to be missed if you want to get an educated overview of Rioja wine, or even just taste some of the finest vintages around.
Plan a Wine Tasting Trip in Haro Spain
At first it might not seem incredibly easy to plan a wine tasting trip in Haro on your own, because you’ll need to contact the various wineries for appointments, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s actually quite easy to make those wine tasting appointments and the rest of the planning is a breeze.
I don’t recommend taking a guided tour in Haro, only because it’s just too easy to do it yourself and so many of the major wineries you’ll want to visit are within walking distance of each other. The wineries each have guided tours with experts to tell you about their wine production. So why spend the extra money for a guide?
Our best recommendation is to base yourself right in the center of Haro and plan your wine tasting from there. If you’d like to branch out from Haro, it’s easy to rent a car and drive around the surrounding area, or set up a broader Rioja wine trip with a tour company.
How to Get to Haro, Spain
Getting to Haro is also fairly easy. Renting a car is the fastest and most convenient mode of transportation for this area. Driving is really easy and the roads are great, and well marked! The nearest major airport is in Bilbao, about an hour drive from Haro. You can drive from Madrid in about 4 hours. Other options include the high-speed RENFE train or the bus from various points around Spain. We’ve been there a few times and we’ve always driven. Find more details about the train and bus options on the Haro Tourism site.
How to Book Wine Tasting Appointments
It might seem like a lot of work to contact each of these wineries and set up appointments, but it can be pretty easy through email. Another way to go about this would be to first book your hotel and ask the concierge to book the appointments for you. This is obviously the easiest way, but not all hotels offer this service.
To make the appointments yourself, send an email to the wineries you wish to visit at least a week in advance of your trip (even earlier, if you can). You’ll find the email addresses you’ll need in the descriptions below. During busy times, they may not get back to you right away, and the tours can get filled up quickly (especially ones in English), so it’s best to do this as far in advance as possible. If no one is getting back to you, send another email, call directly or see if they have an online form you can fill out.
I found that email was the most direct way to contact the wineries. You can certainly call them as well, if your Spanish is better than mine. Online forms were not as successful for me. Do keep in mind that English tours are given less often than Spanish tours, so you’ll have to be flexible and able to take whatever appointment you can get. Some of the wineries also have a tasting bar so you can just walk right in and have a tasting, without scheduling or taking a tour.
Top Haro Wineries
There are quite a few wineries in Haro that you can visit. Some are incredibly old and have a mountain of history. Taking a tour of these older wineries is a highlight of visiting the wineries of Haro. The cellars are built underground and use the natural humidity to support and protect the wine. It’s an incredible thing to see. Here are our top choices for wineries to visit.
If you’re walking or driving, CVNE is a great place to start. There is a public parking lot directly across from the entrance of the winery, and from there you can walk to the other wineries listed here (in the order given).
Bodega CVNE (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) has been around since 1879. It was started by two brothers who were pioneers in the wine industry. The company has continued to grow and expand, adding additional space and labels to the empire. A winery visit at CVNE, located right in the center of the Barrio de la Estacion, where many of the major wineries in Haro can be found, includes a walk through the facilities and a peek at the cellar building that was designed by Gustave Eiffel. Deep within the cellar you’ll witness the white mold growing all around the stacked bottles aging peacefully. It’s really a sight to see.
If you don’t wish to take a tour, you can walk right into the tasting room at CVNE and try a few of their wines, which range in price from €1-5 for a tasting. They have a few different labels to try. You can also schedule a winery lunch or take one of their tasting courses (wine and chocolate anyone?)
Address: Barrio de la Estación, s/n, 26200 Haro, La Rioja, Spain
Phone: +34 941 30 48 09
Email: [email protected]
Ever wanted to take a hot-air balloon ride? Muga offers it as one of their activities! I think a balloon ride over the vineyards in the fall would be one of the most beautiful ways to see the vineyards at their peek. If you don’t want to go all out, there are full-day wine tasting courses you can take at Muga, or just go on a guided tour of the facilities. The winery was founded in 1932 and you can expect to find some very nice wines here.
If you don’t wish to take a tour, you can walk in at any time and have a tasting at the bar. There are a few choices of flights and the prices are very reasonable.
⇒ Gomez Crusado
This winery was founded in 1886 and has been run by a few different people along the way. The current owners have been the driving force that ushered Gomez Crusado into the spotlight. The winery is housed in the original structure in the Barrio de la Estacion, and while it’s one of the smallest, it has a lot of personality to make up for it. You can just walk right in (no reservation needed) any day of the week and ask for a tasting flight, which includes five wines for 8€. They also have a guided tour and tasting for 10€, as well as a premium tasting for 40€ that you must book in advance.
⇒ Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia
The history of R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia can be traced all the way back to 1877 when the founder came to La Rioja looking to start up his winery business and grow grapes. He planted the vineyards and followed it up with the establishment of the winery, the first in Haro, shortly after. It remains a family-owned winery to this day.
A visit to Viña Tondonia is an absolute must when in Haro. They are open for visits from Monday to Saturday (except holidays), and the tour lasts around 2 hours. If you only want to do one full tour in Haro, this is the one to choose. If you don’t have time for a tour, the wines can be tasted and purchased in the unique modern shop in front of the winery from 10am-7pm. They do have an online form you can fill out, but email works best.
Now you’ll visit a winery without the vast history of the others. Roda was founde in 1987 and didn’t open in Barrio de la Estacio until the 2000s. The winery has three different cellars, each using different techniques for aging the wine according to varietal. You can visit the winery with an appointment Monday – Saturday. There are two tour times, 10am and 12pm. The visit costs 15€ and includes a walk through a photo exhibit and tasting of two wines. They also provide private tours with a tasting of 4 newer wines, or historical wines.
Without a tour, you can stop by the wine bar at Roda at any time for a tasting without an appointment. The wine bar is open on Sunday, but closed on Thursday.
Top Haro Restaurants
Of course, after all this wine tasting, you’ll want to find some great food choices to soak it all up with. While none of the Haro bodegas have restaurants, you can schedule a traditional lunch at CVNE in advance. Other restaurants can be found in the city center, which will require about a 1/2 mile walk from the wineries, or a quick drive.
There is a pinchos crawl in Haro, but it’s not as exciting or as good as the one in Logrono. If you want to experience something really spectacular for lunch, head to Logrono. You can thank us later.
⇒ Terete Restaurant
The specialty at Terete Restaurant, which is located just a block from the center square, is the oven-roasted leg of lamb. You’ll see many clay pots filled with lamb pass through the dining room as they are taken to the wood-fired oven to be cooked. It comes to your table sizzling and steaming, and the waiter will cut it and serve it for you. Of course, there are plenty of other things on the menu, but the lamb is the star. You really need a reservation here, unless you arrive at the very beginning of service and are lucky enough to snag an opening.
⇒ El Claustro of Hotel Los Agustinos Restaurant
One of the top places to stay in Haro is also one of the top places to eat. If you’re smart, you’ll just go ahead and book yourself a room at Hotel Los Agustinos, then plan to eat there as well.
⇒ La Vieja Bodega
Located just outside of town, La Vieja Bodega is a great way to spend a leisurely lunch. You’ll have over 400 bottles of wine and an extensive and tasty menu of traditional and modern dishes to choose from. The restaurant is large, but can get packed with tour groups, so make sure to have a reservation (starting at 2pm for lunch).
Top Haro Hotels
If you don’t have a car in Haro, it’s best to stay in the city center. That way, everything is within walking distance, or you can catch a bus to another nearby town easily. If you stay outside of town, you’ll need to take a taxi, which can get expensive. If you do have a car, you can consider the hotels that are a little further out, which can include a few winery hotels!
⇒ Hotel Los Agustinos
The hotel is located in a beautifully converted, centuries-old monastery in the center of town. The location is fantastic for walking around Haro and enjoying the town. The central courtyard has been converted into an atrium. While it does get a bit noisy in the streets around the hotel on the weekends, you’ll find the rooms to be clean and comfortable.
⇒ Hotel Viura
Located about a 20-minutes drive from Haro is the trendy and modern Hotel Viura in Villabuena de Alava. We LOVE this hotel. The design is very unique and the rooms are large. There is a lovely restaurant downstairs with a tasting menu that can be paired with Rioja wines. And there is a bodega on the property as well. If you’re wanting to go beyond Haro, we highly recommend Hotel Viura. It’s in a great spot for wine tasting!
⇒ Hotel Eguren Ugarte
Just a 25-minute drive from Haro is a really nice bodega called Eguren Ugarte, just outside the hilltop town of Laguardia. Not only does the winery have a fascinating tour and tasting, they also book out very nice rooms on the property, and they have a restaurant on sight. It’s a great place to stay because of its proximity to so many great wineries and the town of Laguardia. Also, the views are spectacular!
You can easily spend a week in Haro, visiting a winery or two per day, strolling around town, and visiting other nearby towns. It’s a great place for a relaxing vacation, but you can be as adventurous and busy as you want without running out of options.
Have you been to Haro? Tell us what your favorite wineries are!