La Rioja and San Sebastián – A Gastronomic Adventure Part 3

We had pre booked a car rental from Sixt car hire just a short distance from our hotel for the day trip to La Rioja and to our surprise although we’d booked just a modest entry level manual car we got upgraded to a rather nice Mini Countryman Automatic  by the charming and helpful Laura.

By 8:15 we had hit the road. The weather was not so kind to us on the drive down to Haro but by the time we arrived at our first stop, the legendary Vina Tondonia, the rain stopped and the sun started breaking through.

I had been recommended to visit Viña Tondonia by an oenophile friend and having contacted them the week before had managed to book on the only English speaking tour that day. The downside was that we had to be there by 10am and it was at least a ninety minute drive!  In the end it took longer as we ended up taking a wrong turn! By the time I had realised my error we were running twenty minutes behind schedule and consequently missed the start of the tour at  Viña Tondonia.

We joined the tour just in time as they were about to enter the cooper’s workshop! This was a real highlight for me. Oak barrels are something that I kind of took for granted until on a recent trip to France I learned that the copper’s art is a dying one.

With Viña Tondonia making the most classic style of Rioja it’s no surprise to learn that they are the only Bodgega to employ to full-time coopers. It stakes on average 2-3 years to serve a cooper’s apprentice and currently there is no apprentice learning the craft!

It’s a highly skilled job and there’s a lovely Spanish phrase that really epitomises this “When you can measure something without measuring you have the eye of a cooper!”.

The American Oakis seasoned fror twelve months then in strips measuresd oiut

The cellars themselves







Wines , cooper take, La Vina Pombal,

hard and Vitoria

Lunch Pintxos

Dinner amazing restaurant


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