Oh thou, jug of wine, in the desert
with my delectable love
said the old poet
Let the pitcher of wine
add its kiss to the kiss of love.
Pablo Neruda dedicated one of his poems to it: wine, the raised banner of Valladolid, a region proud of its lands that cradle five Denominaciones de Origen (protected designations of origin): Rueda (the oldest), Cigales, Toro, wines of the Tierra de León and Ribera del Duero (literally, the banks of the Duero). Today, we’d like to recommend a tour of the latter.
Hundreds of vineyards are located on the banks of the Duero, tracing a route, from village to village, that shouldn’t be missed by lovers of fine wine. From Valladolid to Peñafiel, it’s a journey through the senses, in the form of wine tourism.
But wine tourism isn’t just visiting vineyards and wine cellars. It’s about discovering the history, the tastes, the aromas, seeing how the wine is produced and exploring the place where the wines of Ribera del Duero are born.
Wine tours in Ribera del Duero
Just 16 kilometres from the regional capital, Valladolid, you’ll find our first stop: Tudela del Duero, surrounded by the river that gives it its name. Once you’re there take the time to explore its vineyards, such as Bodegas Mauro or Bodegas Mento, which are renowned for the quality wines they produce, cared for from the moment the vines are planted.
And to accompany a fine wine, what could be better than the town’s famous asparagus, records of which date back to the 15th century. Long, chunky and juicy, the asparagus from here is sold both white and purple-tipped.
Just under quarter of an hour away you’ll come to the next stop on the tour: Sardón del Duero, a town dedicated to wine. Take a stroll and discover the church of San Juan Bautista, then, some two kilometres out of town, is the Monastery of Santa María de Retuerta, a protected site of cultural interest.
And when you’re sampling the fine wine that comes from the vines of Sardón del Duero don’t forget to try the local mantecados (a traditional flour based sweet) and the handmade cheese. Delicious!
*Vineyard in Sardón del Duero. / Photo: cntraveler.com.
We’d recommend you also pay a visit to the Parque Temático de la Arquitectura del Vino (Story of Wine Theme Park), to enjoy an in-depth trip through the history of the drink. It has two different areas: indoors in an old train station and a large outdoor space which tells the story of how wine was produced over the years.
We head now to Quintanilla de Onésimo, where one of the most visited bodegas of the region is to be found: Arzuaga Navarro. It’s an example of passion and a dedication to the land and to the grape. It offers wine tourism experiences to educate your palate, discover the vineyard or stroll round the grounds of the Finca La Planta.
Viña Mayor is another of the vineyards that offers guided tours in Quintanilla de Onésimo. It’s a wine adventure, a fusion of tradition and modernity, in the heart of the so-called ‘Golden Mile’ of the Ribera del Duero, set in beautiful countryside.
On the other side of the river we find Olivares del Duero. Bodegas de Renacimiento and Bodegas La Cepa Alta are two of the places to visit here to try the refined wine of the area and discover how the vines are cultivated and the wine is made.
If you head into the town itself you can visit the Church of San Pelayo, the Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Virgen de la Estrella, and what’s called ‘El Mesón’, a house where some of the old Spanish kings are reputed to have stayed, such as Carlos V.
*Vines at the Viña Mayor vineyard, Quintanilla de Enésimo. / Photo: vina-mayor.com
The next stop is what’s known as the ‘Anillo del Duero’, the ‘Ring of the Duero’, where the towns of Valbuena and San Bernardo are connected by mountain and river. A connection that provides stunning scenery, amidst which are a number of vineyards just waiting to be visited. These include the legendary Bodega Vega Sicilia in Valbuena, one of the oldest and most famous in the Valladolid region.
Quintanilla de Arriba is in the county of Campo de Peñafiel, nine kilometres from Peñafiel and 48 kilometres from Valladolid. Here you can try the wines in vineyards such as Aalto Bodegas y Viñedos, Alizán Bodegas y Viñedos or Castellana de Vino de Crianza.
Eventually we reach our final destination: Peñafiel, topped by the castle that gives the town its name and which holds the Wine Museum. It would be fair to say this is an icon of wine tourism in the Ribera del Duero region and its beauty and its cultural and historical importance have made it a reference point throughout Castile and Leon.
One vineyard stands out among those of Peñafiel: Bodegas Protos, which offers you the chance to visit its two wineries, the older one, within the hillside and the new one, designed by architect Richard Rogers. At the end of the tour you can sample a glass or two in a wine tasting.
If you’re there in October, in Peñafiel the Riberjoven fair is on, a festival dedicated to young wine and the gastronomy of the Ribera del Duero region. You won’t want to miss it.
¿Where to stay in Valladolid?
For the wine tour we’d recommend staying in Valladolid and starting from there. Right on the city’s main thoroughfare is the Vincci Frontaura 4*, with a wine-inspired name, and which is surrounded by landmarks as well as restaurants and shops.
* A bottle of Frontaura Crianza.
Our hotel is housed in a building of seven floors that offers you every creature comfort, including a Nammu Area Spa, a gym and an open-air pool where you can fight off the summer heat.
As a wine lover, we’d recommend you try our Tastevin Restaurant, which is located in the hotel itself, so if you’ve been out touring all day and are tired you won’t have to go out again. So settle back in front of the huge vineyard mural and let our waiters bring you the extensive menu, which exquisitely combines the traditional and the modern.
*Tastevin Restaurant, Vincci Frontaura 4* Valladolid.
Nearly 100 rooms, cared for to the last detail, are waiting to offer you the perfect place to relax and to start your tour of Ribera del Duero.