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Exploring Rioja wine history at Bodegas Bilbainas, Haro

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Bodegas Bilbainas, Haro is one of the best places to get a sense of Rioja wine history. Located in Haro’s Railway Station Quarter, Bodegas Bilbainas is an amazing part of that history. Today in the Haro area you will find the largest number of Rioja bodegas with over a hundred years of wine history. When phylloxera, a grape vine disease, destroyed vineyards across Europe French wine merchants came to Haro and established vineyards. Bodegas Bilbainas was one of those Rioja vineyards. It is also important to note that Wine Enthusiasts listed Rioja, Spain's top red wine region, as one of top ten places to visit in 2013. We were most fortunate to be able to explore some of the history of this fabulous wine region.

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It was harvest time when #dwcc13 wine bloggers visited Bodegas Bilbainas. Yes, even though it was a Sunday during harvest time Bodegas Bilbainas graciously hosted visiting wine bloggers. It was so fascinating to visit this Haro winery, with such a long tradition of wine making. Bodegas Bilbainas founded in 1859, was later purchased by a group of Bilbao businessmen in 1901. The property has been carefully restored by the Codorniú Group, which bought the property in 1997. For further details on the history of the Bodegas Bilbainas property see WineTravelGuides and Haro Tourism.

Our tour began with a visit to Bodegas Bilbainas historical cellars. This was followed by a visit to observe some of the fall harvest being processed and a wine tasting. The historical underground cellars at Bodegas Bilbainas are quite extensive. When you walk through these cellars you get a sense of the history of the early wine production in Haro.

Bodegas Bilbainas wines is one of Aveníu Brands. During our visit we tasted the following five wines:

  1. Viña Pomal Viura-Malvasia Fermantado En Barrica 2012
  2. Viña Pomal Crianza 2011
  3. Viña Pomal Reserva 2009
  4. Viña Pomal Gran Reserva 2004
  5. Viña Pomal Alto de la Caseta Venimia 2008

Bodegas Bilbainas, a Rioja DOC wine

Bodegas Bilbainas is a Rioja DOC wine. What does that mean? The

Rioja Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.C.) is centered in La Rioja but extends into parts of Navarre and the Basque province of Álava. D.O. status was granted to Rioja in 1970, with the prestigious D.O.C. status approved in 1991. It was the first Spanish wine region to achieve Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.C.) status. The Rioja grape varieties used to make wines from Rioja D.O.C. include the red grapes varieties - Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciono, Mazuelo and Maturana Tinta; white grapes - Viura, Malvasia, Grancha Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, Maturana Blanca, Turruntés, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo. The main red grape is Tempranillo with the main white grape being Viura.

All too soon our visit to Bodegas Bilbainas was over. Fortunately, We were able to return later to Haro to explore more historical wineries. The La Rioja wine region of Spain offers many unique wine country experiences. For us it was the perfect opportunity, to see first hand some of the ending of the harvest at Bodegas Bilbainas. I invite you to join me in my travels in Spain and elsewhere in search of the best in Spaswinefood. You may also visit my travel column at the Examiner.

© Sharon Parsons

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