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To our surprise and pleasure, the Fall colors were still on the vines in Rioja in early November.
This is the hill town of La Guardia, a major player in the local wine industry. This is taken from the front gate of the first winery we visited.
We visited our first winery, Bodegas Campillo, on the afternoon of our arrival. They say they were the first in Rioja to use modern methods and concentrate on high quality wines. It seemed to be true!
Campillo's barrel room. This winery was incredibly neat, clean and spotless.
Teddie explores one of the alleyways down in Campillo's cellar. They have over a million bottles down there.
Some of Campillo's bottles are stored in private lots owned by organizations and individuals. They only have to call to get some of their wine sent to them.
The view down the central alley of Campillo's cellar. That's 400,000 bottles of Campillo's Crianza wine, about equal to their annual production from all their wines.
Campillo's formal tasting room down in its cellars. We tasted upstairs in a far less impressive room.
Campillo produces wines in the 3 top classifications (out of 4) of Rioja wine. They produce their Gran Reserva, the top of the line, only in years when the quality of the grapes is high enough.
Roberto, our tour and tasting guide. Typical of most wineries, you taste only two wines at the end of the tour. Campillo keeps its Gran Reserva wine on site for 10 years before releasing it. They use their barrels 3 years, with their top wines getting aged in only brand new oak.
After Campillo we checked into the Hotel Villa de Abalos for 3 nights.
This is Jose Castillo, the owner of our hotel. He also produces wine from 2-3 acres of his own land. Here he's opening up one for our dinner. It was quite good!
Jose's wine ... a blend of Tempranillo with other red grapes.
We had great weather during our Rioja stay. The second winery we visited, Lopez de Heredia, was the most interesting, and so I have saved it for the end of this gallery.
The third of our five winery visits was to Bodegas Baigorri. Like Campillo, it is very modern, and it's architecture is both spectacular and innovative.
A view to one side of Baigorri's front entrance.
From inside Baigorri's entrance area.
The view from the back of Baigorri's entrance room.
The production area descends down the hill. Grapes come in the top, and wine goes out the bottom years later.
A scaled model of Baigorri's innovative down hill design. Grapes come in at the top, left, and wine goes out the bottom at right.