18 December 2015

Erasmus North Trip - Tasting Wine in Elciego and Exploring Logroño

The last two stops of the Erasmus North Trip I went on were Elciego and Logroño, two places located La Rioja, a tiny region that not many people visit for tourism but one that offers some of the best wine in the world.

After leaving Bilbao where we stayed for two days, we went southbound towards Elciego. The first thing I noticed was the drastic change in the weather: it was pretty cold and humid and the sky was grey compared to the blue one we left in Bilbao. As we got off our bus, sleepy from the naps we took any time we could, we dragged ourselves to the Marqués de Riscal winery and had a lovely welcome. We watched a clip on the story of the winery which woke us up, then got out with our guide who was very kind and clear when explaining (something I've grown thankful for, as that doesn't always happen!).
This beautiful and antique-looking square hosts the ex-house of the founder of Marqués de Riscal and the buildings where wine is produced. Today, the heirs of the marquis own the winery and deal with the wine production.

As we ventured into the winery, the guide explained to us in detail how wine is produced. This is made with specific techniques and rigorous attention to the detail: for example, when cleaned, workers used to remove the leaves and extra bits that it had to get rid of by hand, and it wasn't until a while ago that they purchased a machine to do that. That absolutely struck me, and I found the whole explanation fascinating.

This brought me back to when I was a child and my parents used to bring me to observe how olive oil was produced near our place in Tuscany. At the end of the visit we would always buy loads of olive oil to stock it up at home and taste the recently made one on a slice of toasted bread, which tasted delicious. So I guess that this is the reason why I found this visit very interesting and satisfying!

After visiting the winery, we got out and had a quick look at the fields of vineyards. Aren't they beautiful? I wanted to collect their red leaves and make a small collection!

We also had a quick stop at the Marqués de Riscal hotel which was designed by Frank Gehry, the same architect of the Guggenheim Museum. After wondering for a really long time why he would add pink to such an incredible building, the guide told us that it represented the wine, and that the curves of the roof portrayed the hills of the vineyards. Also, most of the hotel is built organically with materials of the area, which I found super cool. My dad (an architect) taught me that that is the best way to build edifices!
At the end of our tour we tasted some white and red wine :)

After our nice stop at Elciego we headed towards Logroño. This was the biggest disappointment of the trip and of the places I've been to in Spain this year. Was it because of the weather, the national holiday day, you name the reason - but Logroño was dead. Our guide, however, was very into the story of the town and told us loads about it. This square and the road along it were the best bits I could capture. The main road was actually very festive!

I also wanted to capture the landscape around Logroño and the whole region, which, even though the picture looks a bit gloomy, is pretty impressive. I love the colours of fall and this reflection on the river Ebro looked cool :) 

My advice on wine tasting in Marqués de Riscal:
Apparently, you need to book the tour before being able to visit the winery and vineyards. It's quite cheap and worth it. I haven't done it myself, but this is what we were told by our guide! 


  1. I love the vineyards! And I had no idea they make olive oil that way...they also look like barrels for making wine!
    ~Lor @

    1. Yeah, the barrels are used to make wine! I think olive oil is made very differently as they use olives instead of grapes hehe :)