6 Days Epicurean Cooking Holiday Spain

  • Laguardia - Logrono

Overview

Epicurean Academy Spain Culinary Tour

This culinary program will really allow you to discover why La Rioja and the Basque Country's food have become so popular. With a few practical classes, of approximately three hours each, and a combination of restaurant meals, tapas tours, and food market visits, a very good knowledge of Riojan and Basque cuisine will be attained during this Epicurean culinary holiday. Visits to unique Riojan wine producers and vineyards, along with professional wine tastings, will allow you to fully discover and appreciate the fantastic La Rioja culinary scenery!

Highlights

  • 3 hands-on cooking classes
  • Visit local markets to buy fresh produce
  • Visit great La Rioja wineries, vineyards and olive oil mills
  • Discover the medieval village of Laguardia
  • Daily breakfast, 4 lunches, and 3 dinners
  • 5 nights accommodation
  • 5 days with instruction
  • English
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Hotel Marques de Vallejo

This boutique hotel is located in the historic and cultural heart of Logrono, at a walking distance of the main gastronomic streets, where you can find the best pinchos and tapas in northern Spain, numerous churches, and outdoor dining area full of terraces, where you can have delicious meals accompanied by excellent wines. Built in 1911, was known popularly as Posada de las Animas (Inn of the souls). In May 2004, Hotel Marques de Vallejo went through a meticulous work of restoration, interior design and decoration, done with the aim of offering a more comfortable and pleasant stay to the guests.

Nowadays, the hotel keeps on working the innovation and the improvement of its services and facilities, with the aim of satisfying each and every need. The 50 contemporary rooms at Hotel Marques de Vallejo feature parquet floors and air conditioning. They contain an LCD TV, and private bathrooms with a hairdryer. Wi-Fi access, temperature controller as well as mini bar, are also available in the rooms.

Hotel Villa de Laguardia

Villa de Laguardia Hotel is ideally situated in the capital of La Rioja, Laguardia, 50 kilometers from Vitoria and 18 from Logrono, with the hill upon which the original town stands as a backdrop and set against the Cantabrian Mountains. San Sebastian and Bilbao are approximately 150 kilometers away, about 1-hour drive from both international airports. This charming 4-star hotel is a luxurious but traditional and Provencal style hotel, using only the finest materials and perfectly combining fabrics, wallpaper, color schemes, and furniture.

The hotel brings together in one building all the necessary elements for a state of the art property, with extraordinary quality of service. Its facilities include restaurants, free Wi-Fi, outdoor and private parking. It also has spacious well-groomed gardens surrounding it, and an outdoor swimming pool. The on-site spa offers a range of treatments, based on wine and oil therapies. The hotel also has its own extensive wine cellar and shop, where guests can take part in wine tastings.

Villa de Laguardia has 84 guest rooms, with different exclusive decoration and views to Rioja Alavese wineries. There are 69 standard double rooms, 6 superior double rooms, 4 junior suites, 5 suites. Rooms provide satellite TV, hair dryer, mini-bar and all modern facilities. Besides walking through the wonderful vineyards of the region, it is a unique setting for any kind of activity related to gastronomy, wine, culture, and nature.

Day 1 - Bilbao, Laguardia

  • You will be welcomed and escorted by The Unique Traveller's guide, who will take you to your carefully selected hotel in La Rioja.
  • Check in at your pre-selected hotel in Laguardia.
  • Have a welcome drink, menu hand out, and introduction to the tour program.
  • Free evening.

Day 2 - Laguardia

  • Enjoy a tutored wine tasting of a selection of the most representative wines of La Rioja, conducted by a wine expert. You will learn different techniques to taste wine, as well as the unique characteristics of the wines produced in La Rioja wine region.
  • First hands-on cooking class in your culinary adventure, directed by British born, Cathy, who lives in La Rioja.
  • Have lunch before a tapas tour in the amazing town of Laguardia, where you will sample the best tapas in town, and mix with the locals, experiencing evening life in such lovely place.

Day 3 - Laguardia, Logrono

  • Private guided tour, conducted by local expert, of one of the most astonishing medieval towns in Europe: Laguardia. Walk through the narrow-cobbled town streets, enjoying stunning views as well as visiting small wine and food shops, and bars.
  • Enjoy a privileged visit to one of the best underground cellars in the medieval town of Laguardia. The cellar elaborates its wines in a traditional way, which you will taste.
  • Afterwards, have your second hands-on cooking class followed by lunch.
  • Then, have a guided visit one of the wineries in La Rioja and a vineyard walk followed by wine tasting.
  • Transfer to Logrono, capital of Rioja, for the last two days of your food and wine adventure.

Day 4 - Logrono, Cameros, Logrono

  • Guided visit to the food market. You will be nicely surprised by the size, quality, and taste of the vegetables and fruits in the area. Select your ingredients for the dinner cooking class.
  • Next, head to Cameros, a region of contrasts in the mountains.
  • On the way, stop in an Almazara (oil mill), where you will learn how they make extra virgin olive oil, essential ingredient in Spain's gastronomy. Olive oil tasting included.
  • If there is time, you can also visit a beehive yard, learning how honey is obtained, as well as different applications and products from it.
  • After this interesting experience, you will have a traditional lunch in a local restaurant, based on a typical menu of this quiet and mountainous area: Los Cameros. *Return to Logrono. Seize your free time to relax and enjoy Logrono before your third hands-on cooking class, which will take place in the gastronomy society palace, followed by dinner.

Day 5 - Logrono, Haro

  • Today, leave behind your passion for cooking to relax, visit and experience two unique wineries, including a tasting of two of the best extra virgin olive oils.
  • You will also be lucky enough to have one of the best traditional lunches in a fabulous setting, a guided visit to one of the oldest and prettiest wine estates in Europe, a tour conducted possibly by one of the members of the family and a wine tasting.
  • Then, have your second guided visit to one of the most prestigious wineries in Spain, which has mastered one of the best wines in Spain, thanks to its winemaking methods.
  • Afterwards, have wine and extra virgin olive oil tasting.
  • Enjoy a superb typical lunch from the area.
  • In the evening, you will have a fabulous treat: guided tapas tour in the famous gastronomic street: Calle Laurel. Sample the best tapas of the area accompanied with wine or beer. You will experience authentic and unique tapas from Rioja, while you mix with the locals. Highly enjoyable.

Day 6 - Logrono, Bilbao

  • Return transfer to Bilbao International Airport (BIO).
  • Timing is subject to your schedule.
  • Discover vineyards walk followed by wine tasting
  • Enjoy a private guided tour conducted by local expert in Laguardia
  • Have a tapas tour in the amazing town of Laguardia, and a guided visit one of the wineries in La Rioja
  • Relish a tapas tour in the famous gastronomic street Calle Laure
  • Sample the best tapas in La Rioja
  • Seize a privileged visit to one of the best underground cellars in the medieval town of Laguardia
  • Stop by at Almazara oil mill
  • Taste a selection of the most representative wines of La Rioja, conducted by a wine expert
  • Visit small bars, wine, and food shops

It is not difficult to have a love affair with Rioja, not solely for its wines, but for its generous people, gastronomy, and magnificent landscapes. Rioja is a wine area, which includes the province of La Rioja, a part of Alava, in the Basque Country, as well as Navarra. La Rioja is the autonomous government. Castilian Spanish is spoken in this region, located in central northern Spain, 100 kilometers south of the port of Bilbao, lying astride the motorway that joins the north and Mediterranean coasts. The landscapes of La Rioja are beautiful and impressively diverse, with ancient hilltop fortress towns rising from the blanket of vineyards, overlooked by a panorama of the imposing Sierras of Cantabria and the de la Demanda ranges in the west, and those of Pealosa and Yerga to the east.

Culture

Being a target of its neighbors at one time or another, La Rioja retains close ties to Castile because it was in La Rioja that the Castilian language was first written down. Clearly, its loyalty lies more in that direction than towards the others, something still evident today. Before La Rioja became an autonomous region in its own right, it was part of Castile, an association that goes back to the unifying of Spain after the marriage of Ferdinand I of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, in the 15th century.

The strength of the family remains key to the peoples lifestyle. This strong confidence building unity is fundamental to their personality, and just so long as they are treated with respect, one will find them both friendly and unnecessarily generous. When visiting many parts of Spain, like La Rioja, it becomes clear that by no means all Spaniards are Latin in character; though they may betray the same love of life at times. They are proud, yes, but also phlegmatic, sometimes reserved but also uninhibited, and both patient and courteous, unless they are driving a car. The new generation is demonstrating an openness their ancestors lacked, probably because the nation was so heavily subjugated during the many years following the Civil War.

History

The region's history dates back to the times of the Celtic Iberians, in 3000 B.C., before the Romans who landed at Tarragona in 300 B.C., moved inland up the River Ebro, to set up camps in Rioja some several years later. The locals like to think they stopped because of the wines and gastronomy, but it was most likely because of their failure to cross the mountains into the Basque Country, thanks to the very powerful resistance from the Basques. However, their arrival in Rioja was to prove importance to the industrial wine business, when they introduced a degree of good commercial practices.

Though less evident in the north, the occupancy of Spain by the Moors, between 711 A.D. and 1492, had an inevitable impact on the culture, language, and character of the nation, as it is evident from the peoples proud nature and the many Castilian words with Arabic origins. The first written Castilian occurred in Rioja, when in a 13th century Monk, Gonzalo de Berceo, penned a poem at the Monastery of San Millan, writing in the language of the common people - rather than Latin, and for which he hoped he might receive a glass of good wine.

During the Middle Ages, thousands of pilgrims crossed the province on their way to the shrine of St. James in Galicia, and were very appreciative of the regional wines. La Rioja wines history is well covered in that section and it owes its prominence to the fact it has become regarded as Spains flagship wine region, especially since 19th century.

Nature and the environment

Apart from over 60,000 hectares of vines, other prominent crops are cereals, sugar beet, apples and pears, along with an abundance of sheep. The economy is built around agriculture in general, particularly in the winemaking industry and its allied products, such as oak barrel makers, capsule producers, label printers, and agricultural machinery suppliers as well as engineers and, not least, banking.

The mighty River Ebro bisects Rioja from west to east, and with the mountains, plays a key role in the geology and climate of Rioja; from the cooler, verdant west, where vineyards and population centers are higher in altitude; down to the warmer, arid east, in the Rioja Baja. They influence the micro climatic conditions in the vineyards, both feeding the water table and generating early morning mists across the riverside vineyards, while sheltering them from the worst of the Atlantic influences. More than 2,000 years ago, the Ebro was navigable with sea-going vessels, sailing the 500 kilometers from the Mediterranean to Logrono, the capital of La Rioja.

Locations play a major part in creating just the right ambiance for both wine tasting and dining, on the regional's extraordinary variety of ingredients and culinary styles. During this culinary holiday, the dishes you will create for yourself include canapes, a Mediterranean menu, a traditional Rioja lunch, and a variety of typical region's dishes at Laguardia. The highlight will be an invitation to one of Rioja's oldest gastronomic societies; but between, you will be introduced to the most entertaining Spanish food, including tapas and plenty of authentic culinary dishes.

Feel free to explore Laguardia and Logrono in your spare time. A visit to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is subject to guests arrival time.

  • 2 tapas tours
  • 3 cooking classes
  • 3 dinners
  • 4 lunches
  • 4 winery guided visits including tutored wine tasting
  • 5 full breakfasts
  • 5 nights accommodation
  • Airport transfers
  • All entrances and fees
  • All taxes
  • Personalized English speaking expert guide throughout the tour
  • Private guided walking tour of a medieval town
  • Recipe book to take home
  • Tour of the medieval village of Laguardia
  • Transportation during the tour
  • Visit great La Rioja wineries, local markets, vineyards. and olive oil mills
  • Flights
  • Meals not specified
  • Optional visits
  • Optional spa treatments
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips
  • Travel insurance

Arrival by airplane

Please arrive Bilbao International Airport (BIO). You will be picked up by The Unique Traveller's escorted guide, which will take you to your hotel. The pick-up is included in the price.

For information about the booking conditions, please send The Unique Traveller an inquiry.
  • Review by Bruce

    "Dear Ramon, thank you so much for time and help on our recent trip. I know that we got to do and see things, that many tourists do not, because of your knowledge of the country. Overall, it was a great experience. Shari and I could have stayed another two weeks and could easily see ourselves returning and staying longer than two weeks; Shari, I think, to Barcelona, and me, to Rioja."

    The Unique Traveller website, edited

  • Review by Peter from Melbourne, Australia

    "Hi Ramon, it was a pleasure for us to have you show us around ‘your’ Rioja, it was something we both enjoyed greatly. Both Arzak and Elkane were superb and Juan Mari, in particular, was very generous to us; we have a photo with the three of us. The transfer from San Sebastian was smooth and the driver was a lovely gentleman. So all up, it was a great trip and one we will remember. We expect to see you again, maybe even in this part of the world, and will always quote you to friends. Best wishes."

    The Unique Traveller website, edited

  • Review by Jeff Kavy

    "Honestly, I wouldn't miss the festival; it was fabulous. This was our second trip to Rioja; we were also there four years ago, in July, for the battle of the wines, which is also a spectacular event. There certainly are crowds at the festival but our group included an 83-year-old woman who came with her son. She had the time of her life and didn't have any problem with the crowds. We did not go to the Basque country on this trip but we had been there previously. San Sebastian is awesome. Ramon does a great job so I have no reservations about recommending him."

    The Unique Traveller website, edited

  • Review by Cheryl

    "We had an incredible custom trip, which encountered all our individual and group needs, by Ramon, from The Unique Traveller. I would highly recommend Ramon and his company to anyone going to Spain on vacation. The combination between special wine tastings, incredible restaurants, and meals is simply mind-blowing. The tapas tours and cooking classes, along with the diversity of old and new hotels, made the entire experience a beautiful lifetime memory. Ramon and Annabelle have fun and engaging personalities and they made the trip worth every cent. I will certainly use their services again!"

    The Unique Traveller website, edited

  • Review by Victoria M. from Denver, USA

    "Ramon's tour of the Rioja area was extremely enjoyable. Great hotels, great wine tours, excellent restaurants, and a lot of attention to details. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to see the Rioja wine area and loves great food. Overall, I can't come up with one complaint about the five days spent with The Unique Traveller."

    The Unique Traveller website, edited

London W9 1HR, United Kingdom

The Unique Traveller is a tour operator providing themed itineraries, gourmet food, wine and culture tours, related to the untouched-authentic Spain.

Speaks English

from --

6 days / 5 nights

Availability

This vacation is available from April to October. From November to March, on request.

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