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  La Rioja – The Land of Wine
  — VIEW SAMPLE ITINERARY — There’s more to Rioja than great wine...

The wines of Rioja are among the finest in Spain. Perhaps the world. But don’t let the reputation for its wines detract from the fact that it’s also the home of a superb cuisine. As they say, gourmands may come for the wine, but they stay for the food.

Although Basque chefs and Catalan alchemist–cooks are well recognized, now international gourmands have rediscovered La Rioja's chefs. Rioja's cuisine, both classic and nouveau, is coming out from under the radar. Local innovative chefs, have created what might be called the great new Spanish cuisine, traditional Riojan classic with a French nouveau twist. Your clients will discover that many unpretentious casas de comidas (home cooked eating houses) also offer their own specialties.

Vegetables such as artichokes, eggplants, mushrooms and peppers figure prominently in this new cuisine. Especially the menestras (stews). So do goat and lamb cooked over grapevines. As do wild fish and game such as trout and venison. These new chefs turn typical country dishes like patatas a la Riojana (a simple stew of potatoes, chorizo and smoked paprika) and caparrones con sus sacramentos (pygmy kidney beans stewed with ham bone, garlic, onions and peppers) into dishes that will leave the most persnickety gourmand asking for more.

Of course, we can’t talk about Rioja without talking about its magnificent wine. This region is not only home of the world’s most emblematic bodegas (wineries), but some of the world’s most emblematic wines. Reds made of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo and Granacha grapes. And whites made from the famed Viura, Malvasia and Macebo grapes delight the connoisseurs and aficionados.

Our program takes you to lovely historic towns. You’ll stay in superb hotels like the unique Marques de Riscal or quaint smaller boutique inns like the Hospederia Dos Parajes. You’ll enjoy day excursions to great bodegas (wineries), where you’ll learn the process of wine making passed down by generations. You’ll also visit historic Monasteries where monks originally produced the earlier wines, and where Rioja’s wines were first mentioned by poet Gonzalo de Berceo in 1650.

Best of all you’ll discover a proud culture that revolves around their wine.

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