Saturday, October 17, 2015

Four Nights in the Rioja

A Luxurious Weekend Wine Touring In The Rioja

  • VIP Wine Tastings
  • Private Chauffeur
  • Luxury Accommodations 
  • Gourmet Dining
The Rioja is one of the Spain's most beautiful wine regions, and a must for lovers of great food and legendary wine.  The area has always played a vital role in Spain’s long history, from the Phoenicians and Carthaginians to the Romans, Moors and medieval Crusaders.  Wineries dating from the time of the Romans still exist in and around the region.   Wine making nearly disappeared during the time of the Moors, but returned with the Christian Crusaders, who help bring trade to the region.
The wine growing region of the Rioja (Alta, Baja and Alavesa), extends approximately 120 km along both sides of the historic River Ebro, running from the northwest to the southeast, and is only 50 km wide at its widest point.  The Rioja Alta and Alavesa, bounded on the north by the Sierra de Cantabria mountains and by the Demanda and Urbión mountain ranges to the south, where the peak of San Lorenzo, near Ezcary, reaches a height of 2271 meters (7450 ft), the region's weather is influenced by the Cantabrian Sea, only an hours drive north.  The Rioja Baja, lower and drier then the Alta and Alavesa, is strongly influenced by the warmer Mediterranean climate.

4-night Rioja Wine Tour - Package Pricing:
2 People - 1100€/day/person
4 People - 800€/day/person
6 People - 700€/day/person
8 People - 650€/day/person

Private Guided Tours available March-Novermber
Day by Day Itinerary:
Thursday - Day One
Arrive at the Bilbao airport.  Your driver/guide will meet you upon arrival and take you to the nearby village of Larrabetzu (Lezama) for a truly gastronomic delight at the only restaurant in the province with three Michelin stars, Azurmendi Gourmet, acclaimed the third best restaurant in the world.  You will have the opportunity to meet internationally acclaimed chef Eneko Atxa during your visit.  Before lunch you are invited to visit the largest txakoli wine celler in the Basque region, Bodegas Gorka Izaqirre.
Following lunch, your driver/guide will take you to the 4-star luxury boutique Hotel Viura in the village of Villabuena de Álava, the perfect spot from which to tour the vineyards and bodegas of the Rioja Alta and Alavesa.
Friday - Day Two
You begin your day in the village of Villabuea de Álava itself with a tour and tasting at the acclaimed Bodegas Luis Cañas.  The 90-minute tour includes a visit to the view point overlooking the vineyards where you will taste the wine, discuss the influence of the climate and learn about the characteristics of the soil and the different grape varieties, finishing the tour with a tasting of the their reserve wine in the wine bar.
Your next visit will be in the nearby village of Samaniego, with its noble mansions amid a stunning setting.  Your second wine tour will be at the cellars of Remirez de Ganuza, where the winemaker will take you on a guided tour of the vineyard were you will learn about Rioja’s native grape varietals and their style of viticulture, followed by a private VIP tasting of the bodegas outstanding, award winning wines.
Lunch today will be at Restaurant Héctor Oribe in the village of Páganos, near the fortress city of Laguardia, the capital of the Rioja Alavesa.
Following lunch you will visit the wine estate of Torre de Oña in Páganos.  The two-hour tour includes a walk through the vineyards and visit to the winery.
Saturday - Day Three
This morning you will start the day in Haro at the “Barrio de la Estación”, where you will visit Bodegas López de Heredia-Viña Tondonia one of the most prestigious wine produces in the Rioja Alta, and the most traditional.  The 90-minute tour will end with a tasting in the Zaha Hadid-designed glass wine pavilion, and includes a complimentary bottle of wine.  
Your second visit will be at Bodegas Roda, which is next door to López de Heredia.   Your luxury private visit will last two hours and includes a tasting of four premium wines.  You can also taste their artisan olive oils, Dauro and Aubocassa, two of the best in Spain.
Lunch today will be at Las Duelas Restaurant of the Hotel Agustinos in Haro, considered to be the best place to dine in the city. 
Following lunch, you will have an afternoon visit Bodegas Viña Real, a state-of-the-art winery designed in the shape of a wine barrel by Bordeaux-based architect Philippe Mazières.  The winery belongs to the C.V.N.E. Group.
Sunday - Day Four
This morning you start the day with a visit to Bodegas Baigorri.  Founded in 1996, this strikingly contemporary winery was designed by the Basque architect Iñaki Aspiazu, with the winemaking process completely gravity fed.  The tour begins in the glass cube and decends seven levels, to a depth of 35 meters.
Today’s second visit will be at Bodegas Ostatu, which is across the highway from Baigorri.  After a tasting of their outstanding wines, you will visit the midieval walled village of Laguardia before heading to Elciego for lunch.
Lunch will be at the Frank Gehry designed Marqués de Riscal in Elciego in the Michelin star and Repsol sun-awared Restaurant Marques de Riscal, with cuisine created by chef Francis Paniego of Restaurant Echaurren in Ezcaray, the first chef in the Rioja to receive a Michelin star.  
After lunch, you will tour the "City of Wine" and the oldest cellars of Marqués de Riscal, dating from 1858, before returning to your hotel.
Monday - Day FiveAfter breakfast, your driver/guide will return you to Bilbao for your flight home, or to continue your adventure.

What’s Included:
  • Accommodations for 4 nights at a luxury boutique hotel in the Rioja, deluxe room
  • Private transfers
  • English speaking chauffeur/guide
  • Breakfast daily at the hotel
  • Gourmet lunch at Restaurant Azurmendi, 3 Michelin stars
  • Lunch daily
  • VIP wine tastings
  • Local taxes
What’s Not Included:
  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals and drinks not specified
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance (highly recommended)
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Running of the Bulls 2016

Iberian Traveler is once again offering its Special 4-Day/3-Night VIP Packages for the opening days of the Fiesta de San Fermín and the Running of the Bulls in 2016.

Come for the adventure... run with the bulls

Iberian Traveler, through Sanfermín Tours, offers clients the opportunity to join Peña Seattle de Sanfermines on a private balcony overlooking the Town Hall Square for the start of another exciting celebration of one of the world’s most popular festivals.
The Fiesta de San Fermín and the Feria del Toro, the Festival of the Bull, which dates from the 14th century.  Sanfermines, as the festival is known locally, and the encierro, the running of the bulls, was first introduced to the world in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” (Fiesta) and continues to drawn visitors from around the world.
The fiesta begins at noon on the 6th of July with the opening ceremony, the firing of the rockets, “el chupinazo”, and ends at midnight of the 14th with the "pobre de mi,” the candlelight ceremony, which also marks the beginning of the countdown to Sanfermines 2017.

Iberian Traveler's Special Hotel Packages for the opening days of the fiesta includes select hotels in the old quarter and the city center.

Hotels in the Old Quarter
4-star luxury hotel – Offering single & double occupancy rooms, suites available
4-star hotel – Choose a single, double or triple occupancy room, superior rooms available

Hotels in the City Center
4-star hotel – Choose from single, double, triple and quad occupancy rooms.  Junior suites are available.

The VIP Program includes:
5 July - Private transfer from Pamplona's airport or train station to your hotel
5 July - An official pañuelo and tour shirt from Peña Seattle
6 July - Breakfast at the hotel
6 July, 10:00 am - Chupinazo Program - enjoy the opening ceremony from a private balcony in the town hall square
6 July, 1:30 pm - Special Celebration Lunch of traditional Navarran cuisine
7 July, 7:00 am - Balcony reservations for the first encierro
7 July, 8:30 am - Special breakfast following the running of the bulls
7 July, 10:00 am - Join the Procession of San Fermín as it moves through the old city, or join your guide for a tour of the old quarter
8 July, 7:00 am - Balcony reservations for the second encierro
8 July, 8:30 am - Special breakfast following the second running of the bulls.
8 July - Private transfer to Pamplona's airport or train station to continue your adventure in Spain, Portugal or France.
3-night Standard and Basic Hotel Packages for the opening days of the fiesta are also available beginning the 5th of July. 

The crowd in the town hall square for the opening ceremony

Additional Standard and Basic Hotel Packages are available from 8 to 14 July with a 2-night minimum stay.
Iberian Traveler welcomes individuals, friends and families, and those walking the Camino de Santiago, to join us, and Peña Seattle de Sanfermines, in July for the fiesta.
Bullfight tickets are available from 6-14 July - Tendido, Grada and Andanada sombra (shade) seating.

Contact Iberian Traveler at or visit for additional hotel package information.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Cartel for Sanfermines 2015 has been announced!


Domingo 5 de julio 2015 a las 19:30
Novillos de “El Parralejo”, de Zufre (Huelva) para los novilleros: Posada de Maravillas, Varea y Roca Rey.

Lunes 6 de julio 2015
Toros de Capea, de San Pelayo de Guareña (Salamanca), para los caballeros rejoneadores: Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, Sergio Galán y Roberto Armendáriz

Martes 7 de julio 2015
Toros de Jandilla, de Mérida (Badajoz), para Juan José Padilla, Pepe Moral y Alberto López Simón.

Miércoles 8 de julio 2015
Toros del Tajo y Toros de la Reina, de Trujillo (Cáceres), para Antonio Ferrera, Morenito de Aranda y Jiménez Fortes.

Jueves 9 de julio 2015
Toros de Victoriano del Río, de Guadalix (Madrid), para Sebastián Castella, Iván Fandiño y Alejandro Talavante. 

Viernes 10 de julio 2015
Toros de Fuente Ymbro, de San José del Valle (Cádiz), para Miguel Abellán, Miguel Ángel Perera e Iván Fandiño. 

Sábado 11 de julio 2015
Toros de José Escolar Gil, de Lanzahíta (Ávila), para Francisco Marco, Luis Antonio Gaspar “Paulita” y Paco Ureña. 

Domingo 12 de julio 2015
Toros de los Herederos del Excmo. Sr. Conde de la Maza, de Morón (Sevilla), para Eugenio de Mora, Antonio Nazaré y Juan del Álamo.

Lunes 13 de julio 2015
Toros de Garcigrande y Domingo Hernández, de Alaraz (Salamanca), para Juan José Padilla, Julián López “El Juli” y Miguel Ángel Perera.

Martes 14 de julio 2015
Toros de Miura, de Lora del Río (Sevilla), para Manuel Escribano, Luis Bolívar y Salvador Cortés

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Review of Sanfermines 2014

The crowd gathering in the town hall square for the opening ceremony, el chupinazo at noon on the 6th.

Running With The Bulls

The Pastores walking the route of the encierro the morning of the 7th.

The Torrestrella bulls, in their 13th appearance, had the first goring on the first day, 7 July in an encierro that lasted only 2 min 25 sec.  There were 5 other injuries.
The bulls from the Dolores Aguirre ranch, in their 15th running of the bulls, ran the route in 2 min. 20 sec.,  the 21st fastest encierro.  Although they have a history of serious injuries and the 5th most gorings, there were none this morning, but there were 3 serious injuries.
Running with the Victoriano del Río bulls on 9 July. Time: 3 min. 23 sec.   This was the 5th appearance of the Victoriano bulls for Sanfermines.  There were 2 goring, including the writer Bill Hillmann, who had just published his latest co-authored work "How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona", and 3 serious injuries that morning.
July 10, waiting for the encierro to begin.  The Garcigrande bulls from Salamanca, in their first appearance for Sanfermines, ran the course in fast 2 min. 30 sec., leaving two runners on Santo Domingo gored in their wake, along with 6 serious injuries.  It proved a very dangerous run, with at least 80 minor injuries along the way.
The Garcigrande bulls racing down Mercaderes.
The Miura bulls, in their 34th appearance in Pamplona for Sanfermines, caused major panic on the last run of the festival at the corner of Mercaderes and Estafeta, La Curva, when one bull fell and came away with 3 goings and 4 serious injuries as a result.

The Last Day

Finishing the fiesta with our street lunch on the 14th...
and the Pobre de mi, the closing ceremony at midnight.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bulls Before Breakfast by Peter Milligan

Our friend, Peter Milligan, has a new book coming out shortly, Bulls Before Breakfast, with a forward by John Hemingway.  It's available on Amazon as a pre-sale.  I've already read the original draft and it's quite interesting.

You can visit his blog at: and his Facebook page: