There’s something about coming into the Rioja region of Spain on the Camino Francés and seeing all of the vineyards. Differing systems of trellising, but everything from vast acreages planted in Tempranillo, to small pockets of vines in areas protected from winds that fly across the region in the spring. The adjoining regions of Navarra and Rioja, to the west of Logroño, makes for an incredible view of vineyards, that slowly turn into wheat fields as you keep walking.

A protected vineyard in Rioja

As I worked my way through Rioja I sampled amazing Crianzas, or wines that have been in oak for at least a year, as opposed to Reservas which have been aged for two years, at least one of which reds to have been in oak, Gran Reservas have been aged for two years in oak, and three in a be honest, at the places you are eating and drinking as a “peregrino,” or pilgrim of the Camino, I haven’t seen a lot of Gran Reserva action.

Finally, in Burgos, which lies west of the Rioja region, I started sampling wines from the Ribera del Duero. Ribera del Duero is one of my favorite wine regions of Spain, and lies directly south of Burgos. The wines have some amazing dark cherry aromas, good acidity and medium tannins, with dark fruits and leather on the palate.

Not a bad way to walk across Spain!