A Unique Discovery of Wine, Culinary and Cultural Treasures
September 9-19, 2018
(Optional: 3 night extension to Barcelona available)
This truly spectacular wine, culinary and culturally-immersed journey of Spain, is custom-designed to taste great wines as well as savor one of the best cuisines in the world and discover new cities and towns, off the beaten track. Learn about the exciting world of Spanish wines with educational wine tastings in the beautiful Castile, Ribera del Duero, La Rioja and Basque regions, where world famous and highly acclaimed wines are produced.
The tour ventures to San Sebastian, gourmet city par excellence with more Michelin starred restaurants in Spain and the world, and home to fantastic “Txacoli” wines. We’ll visit fascinating venues to learn about the diverse and amazing contrasts of architecture varying from medieval gothic to baroque to exotic and bold contemporary and futuristic designs.
During this exceptional wine tour we will discover some of the most sophisticated, celebrated and varied wines of these regions, meeting world renowned winemakers known for their high quality wines, visit small, boutique wineries located in places of great historical and cultural significance and spend time in their stunning cellars, some of them dating way back.
We’ll luxuriate and relax in authentic accommodations at modern 4* and 5* hotels located in the city or medieval village centers, boasting panoramic views over vineyards or surrounded by rich, historic sites, the perfect elements to ensure a unique and memorable experience one will never forget...
Sept. 09 - madrid (D)
Welcome to Madrid!
Private transfer to our centrally located, modern hotel for check-in. Today our guide will lead us on a cultural/culinary tour as we walk through some interesting sites which form part of what is known as the Madrid of the Hapsburgs in the area surrounding the beautiful arcaded Main Square (Plaza Mayor), the amazing Royal Palace, the beautiful Opera Plaza, and visit stunning bars and cheerful old taverns at the most famous tapas quarter while we hear fantastic legends of the history of Madrid.
We will visit the San Miguel Market, meeting point for friends to start a wonderful tapas experience. Snacking and drinking our way through the evening from bar to bar is incredibly Spanish, and lots of fun. Anything from shrimp cooked in garlic, clams in sherry sauce, ham croquettes with a béchamel sauce, stuffed peppers, pickles on cocktail sticks, cheeses and hams can be enjoyed as a tapa...simply delicious!
MADRID **** CATALONIA del SOL HOTEL (1 night)
Catalonia Puerta del Sol is in a magnificent 18th century building situated in the historic center of Madrid, a few meters from Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s main square. Built around an interior courtyard, the rooms are furnished with all the amenities and services required to satisfy. Its unbeatable location allows us to enjoy the wide range of cultural and shopping options. It hosts a restaurant, foyer bar and hall.
Sept. 10 - Madrid to Salamanca (B/L)
Today we are going to learn about the authentic Acorn Iberian Ham, considered a gastronomic gem, how to differentiate it from others and to know all its meticulous process of elaboration, from the essential pigs’ acorn diet to its long drying process. We’ll finish with a great tasting.
Guided tour to Salamanca, a university city where the first grammar of the Castilian language was born, a monumental complex of great beauty declared a World Heritage Site. We will visit the grand baroque Plaza Mayor, the House of Shells (with more than 300 shells on its facade), its renowned University - the oldest in Spain, and its grand Cathedral.
* Afterwards, we’ll check in at our charming and luxury hotel by River Duero.
SALAMANCA **** HACIENDA ZORITA (2 nights)
We will stay at a lovely wine hotel (hacienda) of stone masonry along the Duero riverside, founded in 1366 by the Dominicans and where Cristobal Columbus stayed during the Conferences of Valcuev. Here we will have a first approach to wine tasting of the famous Rivera del Duero (D.O.) wines in Spain. Gorgeous outdoor areas with tucked away corners and secluded nooks can be enjoyed here. The waters of the River Tormes, a tributary of the Duero, flow under the La Casa Grande building. Inside you’ll find an organic farm-to-table restaurant, wine & dine bar, and The Lounge with its fine food
Sept. 11 -Salamanca (B/L)
Today we will tour by 4x4 to a very special place -- a private estate of many hectares, with an artisanal dairy and cheese factory, an ecological vegetable garden, a balsamic vinegar cellar, where the proprietors will share their lifestyle and unique way of enjoying the flavors of the life. In this 3-hour tour we will:
• Stroll around the finca (estate), admiring the beautiful landscape and seeing its animals, like the buffaloes, or the Spanish Iberian pigs
• Visit the organic garden, balsamic vinegar cellar and observation tower
• Visit the dairy and have a tasting of gourmet cheeses directed by a professional
We will finish with an informal buffet, based on all these products – Iberian ham, cheeses, vinegars, olive oils, organic vegetables, and of course -- wonderful wines!
* In the afternoon, we’ll return to the hotel and visit its winery to enjoy a wine tutored tasting.
Sept.12 - Salamanca to SegoviA (B/l)
Welcome to Segovia, World Heritage City declared by UNESCO! We’ll have lunch at one of the most renowned restaurants of the city, to taste the specialty this region -- roasted suckling tender pig or lamb, deliciously slow-cooked on a spit in huge wooden oven. In the afternoon we will visit the city of Segovia.
The arrival at this noble and millenary town brings us back to remote times. We’ll find ourselves entering under a spectacular roman aqueduct (the best preserved in the world!). We will visit the beautiful Cathedral and the majestic Alcázar, a castle that seems to have come out of a story book. We’ll stroll in this lovely city to discover the magnificent view towards the most placid fields of Castile.
SEGOVIA **** PARADOR DE LA GRANJA (2 nights)
The Royal Residence of La Granja is a beautiful small town just 11 kilometers (7 mi.) from Segovia, at the foot of the Central System Mountain chain. La Granja boasts a spectacular Parador housed in the Casa de Los Infantes (House of the Infant Children), built by Charles III in the 18th century. La Granja is an enchanting place and this Parador allows us to enjoy it to the utmost with its modern facilities, including a spa and spacious, well-equipped guest rooms. We will be enchanted by our strolls through the gardens of the royal palace and its incredible water fountains.
Sept.13 - Segovia (B/L)
Today we will enjoy a cooking class with Chef Oscar Calle, a prestigious Chef in Castile who runs his own gourmet restaurant. We will learn how to prepare typical dishes of this region followed by a sumptuous lunch.
In the afternoon we will visit The Royal Factory of Crystals of La Granja. It is a grand space, where we will see the Technological Museum with magnificent collections of pieces of fine glass and learn about the history of glass making with demonstrations by the craftsmen at the kiln.
* Return to the hotel. Afternoon at leisure.
Sept. 14 - Segovia to Ribera del Duero (B/L)
We head to Ribera del Duero today where we are invited to visit one of the best wineries with a tutored tasting.
A private morning visit to an Abbey and winery is more than just your basic winery tour as we’ll immediately realize we are in a very special place, an estate steeped in history, a unique terroir, which has been carefully cherished over the years.
Via 4x4 we will tour the estate’s most outstanding spots, some of the highlights are a winery tour to see its grape reception, fermentation room and barrel cellar, a visit to the 12th century Abbey of Santa María de Retuerta (if no events are programmed) with wine tasting session offering us Selección Especial and one of their excellent Vino de Pago, top tier niche appellation wines.
Their wines, made from a careful selection of the best grapes in the vineyards, are a bold commitment to terroir wines. One of them has been chosen “Best Spanish White Wine 2013” at the 2013 Verema Awards (Verema.com is the best-known wine portal in Spain and ranked among the top 5 in the world).
RIBERA DEL DUERO ***** ARZUAGA WINE AND SPA HOTEL (1 night)
Our hotel is located inside the Arzuaga Winery and surrounded by vineyards in the middle of the “Gold Mine” of Ribera del Duero river and wine region, where medieval castles, ancient walled cities and wildflower fields fill the landscape. Here, bodegas are small, with intimate tasting rooms and vintner-led tours. Our hotel is a place to enjoy a whole world around wine, where serenity reigns and the warm comfort of its rooms will make our stay pleasant and restful. A host of amenities will make welcome and pamper us with its full-service spa, bodega and restaurant.
Castillo de Peñafiel and Winery
We’ll lunch at Peñafiel, home of kings and nobles. In the afternoon we will visit its Castle, one of the most important fortresses of the Castile and Leon regions, which spectacularly rises on a hill overlooking the Duero and whose ancient, battle-scarred history has left behind an architectural heritage of great value and beauty.
We will visit its interesting Wine Museum, take a stroll around the beautiful Plaza del Coso where bullfighting festivals have been held since the Middle Ages. The plana (town square) is surrounded by unique balconies displaying lovely wooden arabesques.
* Back at the hotel, evening free for a walk in its vast garden, to relax by the pool or enjoy dinner at its lovely view restaurant.
Sept. 15 - Ribera del Duero to La Rioja (B/L)
Today our first stop will be a modern masterpiece and impressive winery, designed by the famous architect Norman Foster, one of the finest wineries in the world. Tasting with a wine expert will follow.
We will then travel to La Rioja, one of the most important wine growing areas of Europe and Spanish oldest wine region.
LA RIOJA **** HOTEL & SPA VILLA LAGUARDIA “relax among vineyards” (1 night)
Our villa hotel is located in the heart of Rioja Alava, the charming medieval town of Laguardia. Hotel Villa Laguardia, is a magical and exquisite establishment of modern construction combining all the elements that make up a great hotel -- quality, comfort, great service, charm and romance. A unique property designed both for leisure or business meetings in a relaxed atmosphere. It also has a fabulous modern spa and is a place to enjoy many of the area’s offerings. Here, we will learn the processes of the famous Rioja wines and taste them accompanied with the fine cuisine of this land.
Laguardia is a completely preserved medieval village full of subterranean cellars under its stone streets, in the heart of La Rioja. Lunch will be at one of the best restaurants in Laguardia with spectacular views of the vineyards. In the afternoon we will be guided on a tour of Laguardia going to its tower for the panoramic views, visiting its unique Romanic Church and ending up at a stunning 12th century cellar, one of the many they have underneath the town, followed by a wine tasting with a wine professional.
*Return to the lovely hotel to relax or enjoy an optional treatment at its wine spa.
Sept.16 - La Rioja to San Sebastian (b/L)
First, this morning we will have the distinct pleasure to visit the avant-garde winery of Marques de Riscal, designed by the visionary architect, Frank Owen Ghery.
Then we’ll continue to Bilbao to savor a MICHELIN STAR RESTAURANT lunch at Restaurante Etxanoble!
White turnip, nutmeg and slices of Iberian Gill
Castanets Iberian pork, sprouts and green coffee extract
Cod, spinach, red onion and eggplant juice
Part cow, green celery and juice mushrooms
Avocado, Grapefruit tears and coconut ice cream
Plain chocolate, marzipan hot sand
Bilbao is where more great architectural and infrastructure projects have been the driving force of urban and economic regeneration of the city. The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, the Euskalduna Conference and Music Centre, Norman Foster's Underground, Calatrava's airport, the towers designed by the architects Arata Isozaki and César Pelli, are all examples of the dynamism that exists in Bilbao.
* Continue to San Sebastian (1 hr), world’s greatest city for “foodies”
SAN SEBASTIAN **** HOTEL ASTORI 7 “The stars hotel” (3 nights)
Centrally located, this modern hotel in San Sebastian is decorated with photos of film stars, due to the famous International Cinema Festival which takes place here. With excellent accommodations and amenities as well as gastronomy, it is also within walking distance of the historic city center and the beautiful Concha Beach -- a perfect place to explore this amazing city!
sept.17 - San Sebastian (B/L)
Morning guided visit to the lively and fresh Food Market with a hands-on cooking class to learn how to prepare special recipes of this region. Our class will take place in a lovely cooking school with an expert and amiable chef and is where we’ll enjoy lunch with wines in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. A panoramic view of the city by bus will follow lunch where we’ll see the La Concha beach with the noble Miramar Palace, former summer residence of the kings.
Then continue up to Igueldo to see another wonderful panoramic vista of San Sebastián, spotting the peak of the Parrot and the famous island of Santa Clara. Later in the day we’ll embark on a cultural walking and “pintxos” * tour for dinner where the hundreds of tapas varieties will amaze us!
* In the Basque country, they serve “pintxos” which comes from the Spanish verb 'pinchar', which means 'to pierce'. The main difference between pinchos and tapas is that pinchos uses toothpicks to avoid the food top from falling off the bread slice bottom
Sept.18 - San Sebastian (B/L)
Morning excursion to a village surrounded by nature and beautiful scenery. We’ll watch Mikel's dog, "Argi", in action as he orchestrates the sheep and appreciate how essential these dogs are in their abilities, their fidelity to their masters and their incredible instincts working with sheep.
We will visit the facilities: the WAREHOUSE , the STALL, the MILKING ROOM and the DAIRY, learning the step by step process involved in creating cheese, from the feeding of the flock to their milking, the cheese making, and the storage of the cheese for their healing in the cold-storage room.
Each visitor will also participate in the preparing of a JUNKET (traditional Basque yogurt made from sheep milk) or a CHEESE. After the guided tour it is time to taste some Idiazabal cheese from “Adarrazpi” farm. For lunch we will enjoy an amazing roasted suckling lamb and other specialties of the region. We will also visit the Cider Museum because we cannot leave Basque Country without tasting its typical drink!
* Back to San Sebastian. Afternoon at leisure.
Sept.19 - San Sebastian (B)
After our gourmet breakfast we’ll transfer to the airport or continue on our 3 night extension.
EXTENSION TO BARCELONA : SEPTEMBER 19-22, 2018
Sept.19 - San Sebastian to AlquezaR (B/L)
After hotel check out, we’ll drive by private van to Alquézar (half way to Barcelona). At our lunch we’ll taste the specialties of this region.
We will travel along the Pyrenees from San Sebastian to Alquezar, a medieval village in the mountainous Huesca Province. The journey follows a number of fascinating and unexpected contrasts along pristine and empty roads, through dramatic landscapes of towering dry rock outcrops and bright blue lakes. The medieval village is perched over deep canyon caverns where vultures soar above, as we climb and twist our way towards the cobbled paths of the city center.
Rich cultural heritage set in stunning natural surroundings, Alquézar is in the foothills of the Pyrenees, within the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Nature Reserve. It is the perfect place for adventure sports like canyoning, hiking, horse riding, and mountain biking. This village also has examples of cave paintings at the Vero River Cultural Park, designated a World Heritage site. It also boasts an outstanding castle, the Santa María la Mayor collegiate church (the region's most visited monument) with its cloister of Romanesque capitals and its organ, along with many shrines. It is highly recommended to visit the Casa Fabián Ethnological Museum, to learn the history of this village ancestors and the culture of the Somontano region, also known for its excellent wines.
* After our tour we will check into the hotel - ALQUEZAR **** VILLA DE ALQUEZAR (1 night)
Sept. 20 - Alquezar to Barcelona (B/L)
Check out and transfer to Barcelona, the heart of Catalonia.
Lunch will be at restaurant with sea views at the Port of Barcelona. In the afternoon visit to the amazing Church of Sacred Family by the genius architect Gaudí (no waiting lines, VIP entrances and private guide for the group). Transfer to hotel and enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening to explore this fantastic city.
BARCELONA - ****CATALONIA LA PEDRERA -- 2 nights
Our hotel is ideally situated, a few minutes from La Sagrada Familia and near to Paseo de Gracia. Its location will allow you to discover the charm of the city's commercial area and places as magical as La Pedrera and Casa Batlló. Thanks to its central location, you will be able to experience the heartbeat of Barcelona firsthand. It also has a rooftop pool and bar and restaurant.
Sept. 21 - Barcelona (B)
At midday we’ll be led on a lovely walking tour among the magical, medieval narrow streets at the Gothic old historic quarter. Enjoy its amazing cathedral and its environs which include the Romanesque church of Santa Llúcia and the City Hall.
Antique dealers, bookshops, restaurants, and unusual shops contribute to the hustle and bustle of this historical district. During the walk, we will have another Tapas style lunch, the famous Spanish way of enjoying small portions of many different local and traditional specialties accompanied by wine or refreshing beer as we snack and drink our way from bar to bar the way the Spaniards do!
* Rest of the day will be on our own.
Sept. 22 - Barcelona to Home
Private transfer to airport with local guide and end of tour