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Spain, Land of Churches, Castles and Wine - Part 2

This is part 2 of Spain, Land of Churches, Castles and Wine. Click here for part 1.

Of the many Rioja wineries that have opened their doors to wine lovers, we visited one of the best known in in the region: Bodegas Eguren Ugarte. The winery and vines are placed in a premium location: a flat area in between two mountain peaks, providing amazing views and a particular climate ideal for wine making. Their wines have won top international prizes and are delicious, though unfortunately, not yet available in Vietnam.

The boutique hotel within the winery, has been built on top of the wine cellars, and has incredible views of the vineyards and mountains. Sleeping amongst the barrels and vineyards is a unique experience. The winery has two fine dining restaurants where they combine traditional local dishes with modern cuisine, all under supervision of one of the Spanish top chefs, Eneko Atxa, who has three Michelin stars.

Eguren Ugarte is a must for wine lovers, but also for those looking for luxury at very affordable prices. If he is around, expect Mr. Victorino, the winery owner, to come round and say hello; nearly 80, he really enjoys sharing his wines with guests, and if you are lucky, he may take you to his secret garden…

With sadness in our hearts (and stomachs) for having to leave Eguren Ugarte, we continued our trip to another world-famous wine producing area: Ribera de Duero, where we visited a few more wineries. There are two that would strongly recommend you visit if you have the chance.

The first is Bodegas Arzuaga, located close to the Duero River and, in addition to visiting the cellars and trying their wonderful wines (which you can find in Vietnam at the Winewarehouse), they have a great restaurant and a luxurious five star hotel.

Bodegas Arzuaga is located in between Madrid and Valladolid, an easy drive from either major city, and a pleasurable place to stay, with extensive gardens, full of delicate and colourful flowers.

A few kilometres away from Arzuaga, you can and should visit my third recommendation: Abadia Retuerta, another of the top Spanish wineries also offering a five star hotel, but that is not all! First, the vineyards are located in a 700 hectare natural park divided by the Duero River. Views are incredible, but even better, go for one of the many walking trails, and be amazed by the richness of the flora and fauna that you will observe.

As for the hotel, it is located among vineyards in what it used to be an abbey. Top luxury again, with two restaurants, and lots of conference rooms equipped with top technology aimed at company retreats. The abbey/hotel is decorated with antiques, giving you a unique chance to sleep and live among pieces of invaluable art. Visit the reading room, where you’ll find a selection of old books.

Both Arzuaga and Abadia Retuerta are just a few kilometres away from many historic villages, but in particular from the castle of Penafiel, which is 150 metres long and a real beauty. Try to visit the small villages, and walk among the old streets and houses while sampling the local food, which is delicious and usually available at ridiculously low prices!

Even if you are not into wine, all these places offer a great experience: great food, luxury accommodation, excellent customer service and incredible views. And if you happen to love wine, Eguren Ugarte, Arzuaga and Abadia Retuerta are at the top of the wine producers list, having won many international prizes, and more important, their wines are just great. If you don’t believe me, pop into Winewarehouse and try a bottle of Pago Florentino or Arzuaga Reserva.

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