Lifestyle & Advice
A slow tour into different wine regions
Slow Wines suggests visiting different wine-making regions throughout Spain, from La Rioja in the north, to the sherry and other wines of Malaga in the south, and of course the glorious Meseta central, a vast central plateau where we find the Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro wine districts.
The locals in La Rioja are proud of their lifestyle. They run their wineries in a particular way and visitors are welcomed as if they were family. In contrast, the people of Castile are much more reserved, although equally prideful of their land. Moving further south, we find a striking difference with the Andalusian way of life, and the effusive characters of the people. You sometimes wonder if one can find a prouder region than in the south of Spain. These regional peculiarities will be quite evident after touring from the north to the south.
In each of the Spanish wine regions, we will find big and small wineries, old and modern estates. In the late nineties, several museum-wineries were built, where the wine-making process is explained in a visual and didactic way. In fact, there are many wineries where we almost take part in the job. There can be a bustle of activity during certain times of the year. Visitors may arrive just when the grapes are vatted, or ready for racking, transferring or bottling wines to be sent to China with the correct labels. Expect to walk over hoses or to step aside as workers pass by with barrels that must be moved from one place to another. This is, after all, a production site, where grapes are transformed into a final product, wine, ready to be shipped all over the world!
La Rioja is a wine district with a long tradition of wine production and commerce. The region is hospitable by nature, and wineries have been perpetuating this fine tradition for years. In most wineries, the guide will take you to the vineyards, weather permitting, for a walk outside. Some visitors seem better informed than others and may ask for a working experience in the vineyard. If the season is right and this can be arranged, you’ll start a day as a vine worker and finish the day exhausted, thinking you really work for the winery!
Most of the Rioja wineries have a net of underground tunnels where you see lots of barrels in which the wine is ageing over several years.
There are two types of bodegas in the Ribera del Duero region: the relatively important ones oriented to mass tourism, and the traditional, family-owned bodegas. While both types are interesting to visit, the experience can be very different from to another. The larger bodegas are typically modern, newly constructed and designed to attract swarms of visitors. They offer didactic, easy to understand presentations. Visitors move from one place to another without interfering in the work at the cellar. In contrast, our hosts in the smaller family run bodegas are not so accustomed to visitors. When we arrive during working hours, you will find people at work, transferring wine or actively working on other tasks.
It is also possible that nothing is happening, because you arrive at a time of year when the wine is resting and maturing in the vats or barrels. The owner will explain the whole process to you, usually in Spanish. This is not a problem, as your Slow Wines guides will explain everything to you in English so you won’t miss a single detail.
When you travel to Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, you will visit bodegas that are prepared to receive visitors, and other smaller cellars where the owner, usually a family descendant, will welcome you. There are very traditional cellars and others that are more commercial.
Slow Wines has selected the most authentic places for you.
The DO of Malaga wines represents a huge variety of places and styles, including the picturesque town of Ronda, Manilva, where vines grow near the coast, or a modern cellar that has been completely integrated into the mountain landscape of the inland region of Malaga Those who consider Malaga wine to be no more than a dark colored, sweet product are quite mistaken. In this region strong red wines and dry white wines are also produced.