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Salud! Exceptional Spanish Wine Destinations

June 29, 2018

 

From luxurious converted monasteries to hotels designed to look like a row of Cava bottles, the choice for wine lovers visiting Spain has never been more exciting. Spain has exceptional vineyards and wines. It has beautiful wine regions. And its tourism is getting ever better, with producers offering everything from ballooning to yoga and cookery classes, in addition to wine tasting and food pairing. Spain certainly has some very fine hotels in wine regions, as well as fascinating and original boutique offerings where visitors are welcomed warmly. But – and there is inevitably a ‘but’ coming – wineries with hotels are really hard to find!


In the list below there’s nowhere in Txakolí country, for those planning a trip to the restaurants in San Sebastián and Bilbao, though there is talk of a project opening along the Costa Cantábrica. Equally, the Sherry region is currently a notable absentee, though González Byass is scheduled to open a new boutique hotel in 2019 in Jerez.


Furthermore, winery hotels do not necessarily produce great wines. When you are staying in a winery hotel, it’s always polite to buy a bottle. Do not feel obliged to do the winery tour; however, barrels and bottling lines can pall. The best advice is to start with a tasting of the wines. If you like the taste of them, then definitely book a visit. Note that a number of the hotel restaurants, and restaurants in general, may be closed on Sunday evenings, and occasionally also on Monday evenings. It is always advisable to book before arriving.


Best for sheer indulgence
Abadía Retuerta
Castilla y León, next door to DO Ribera del Duero; Sardón de Duero, Valladolid
27 double rooms, three suites
Rooms from €391 for a Classic Double to €926 for the Master Suite ledomaine.es

 

Luxury, thy name is Abadía Retuerta! The 12th-century monastery-fortress may look austere from outside, but step inside for the utmost spoiling. 
The first clue is the one-star Michelin Refectorio restaurant, for which you will have wisely booked ahead. The second clue is at check-in when you’re given a mobile to call your personal butler. I have always been too shy to press the button, but go on, give it a go. 
In your room, treats await; maybe a bowl of cherries. Subtle decor tones with the pale stonework – the effect is utterly soothing. The local countryside isn’t scenic, so dedicate your hours to the spa, restaurant, pool bar and wines (which are worth tasting). Wander round the cloister and the church, and book a trip to explore the impressive estate.

 

Best for architecture fans: Marqués de Riscal
DOCa Rioja; Elciego, Alava
43 rooms and suites
Rooms from €310 for the Deluxe Spa Wing to €800 for the Gehry Suite 
hotel-marquesderiscal.com

 

This is without doubt the most dramatic of Spain’s winery hotels: the Frank Gehry designed, titanium-roofed marvel juxtaposed against the ultra-traditional winery of the same name. 
It’s a must-visit if you are in Rioja. Architecture fans will need to book a room inside the main building – you won’t sleep for paying attention to all the design detail. Book a room looking out on Elciego, rather than on the Caudalie spa. However, for a good view of the Gehry design, the Spa Wing is a very comfortable choice. 
The Marqués de Riscal restaurant, under chef Francis Paniego, has a Michelin star. If you order a fine old vintage of Riscal, they will open the bottle for you with heated tongs, in the classical way. For a nightcap, don’t miss the cosy lounge library at the very top of the hotel. Then in the morning, breakfast is a treat out on the balcony overlooking Elciego in the sun. 

 

Best for Cava country: Mas Tinell
DO Penedès; Vilafranca del Penedès, Barcelona
13 rooms
B&B from €127.26 for an Individual Business Room to €381.78 for the Suite Deluxe
hotelmastinell.com

 

An unlikely concept for a building, this hotel has been designed to look like two rows of Cava bottles stacked one on top of the other. 
Remarkably, it works. The flat bottom of the bottle makes a decorative window to each room. The hotel sits amid the vines, with a swimming pool tucked into one side. Visitors can engage with the wine world as they wish, or just sit back and relax. 
Wine tourism is second nature to this family business, which offers horse riding, biking, hot air ballooning and Segway tours. Spa offerings include the chance to bathe in Cava. At harvest, there’s foot-treading of grapes; with year-round visits to the family’s own winery.

 

Best for Priorat: Hotel Trossos del Priorat,  DOQ Priorat; Gratallops
Six rooms; From €108 for a Double Room with Terrace to €123 for a Suite or Family Room
hoteltrossosdelpriorat.com

 

The very best way to understand Priorat and the special quality of its terroirs is to stay in the region for a few days. There’s still a scarcity of hotels, and this small project, which describes itself as ‘rooms in a winery’, is just the ticket. The views are stunning, and the building itself is sympathetic to the landscape. There’s no swimming pool or spa, but the rooms are comfortable and well equipped. 
There’s no restaurant either, but breakfast is provided and picnic baskets can be ordered for lunch. There’s also an honesty bar for the Trossos del Priorat wines. Priorat is all about driving along narrow winding mountain roads, and it’s easy to encounter a peloton of cyclists coming the other way round the bend. So staying here is so much more relaxing than driving up from Sitges or Barcelona each day. Plus, when the tourists have gone for the day, you can luxuriate on the terrace in the quiet.

 

Best for history – and octopus: asal de Armán
DO Ribeiro; O Cotiño, Ribadavia, Galicia
Six rooms
B&B from €75 to €90
casaldearman.net

 

Ribeiro has a long history in wine and was trading with England even before the Port trade was established. It has been through a long decline, but is now at last reviving. Casal de Armán is one of the names in that revival, launched in the late 1990s, working with varieties such as Albariño, Godello and reds Brancellao and Caiño. Ribeiro has history aplenty to explore and Casal de Armán makes a good jumping-off point for excursions. 
Visit the lovely medieval town of Ribadavia, or O Carballiño, renowned for its pulpo, or octopus, and the Festa do Pulpo (this year on 12 August), when some 50,000kg of octopus will be eaten by the revellers.

 

Best for relaxation: Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel & Spa
Castilla y León; Salamanca
40 rooms
A double Celda Room from €225 to €305 for both suites and villas the-haciendas.com

 

A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Hacienda Zorita is a finely manicured estate with a complex of historical buildings in a glorious position above the river Tormes. The bonus is that it is on the doorstep of the historic city of Salamanca. Driving west, to the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, it’s also very easy to cross over into Portugal for the day. 
Founded in the 14th century as a Dominican monastery, the transformation from denial to indulgence is complete, with a vinotherapy spa. The winery produces Marqués de la Concordia wines; there’s also an organic farm, and the estate makes a range of produce including hams and cheese. 
Most of the bedrooms were formerly the monks’ cells (known as Celda Rooms), but they have been stylishly converted into good-sized bedrooms with views over the river. There are suites sleeping three in the main building, and separate villas also sleeping three.

 

Best for families: Can Bonastre Wine Resort
DO Penedès; Masquefa, Barcelona
10 rooms, two suites
B&B from €271.20 for a double room to €400 for a Family Suite
canbonastre.com

The main attraction of this wine resort on a 16th-century estate is the glorious view of Montserrat, the astonishing jagged mountain that dominates the landscape of Penedès. 
The resort is well placed too for visiting Cava properties nearby, since Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is only 10 minutes away by car. While children may not appreciate the spa, or the astonishing views, there are special children’s menus in the restaurant, and ponies for them to visit in the gardens.

 

Best for Ribera del Duero: Hotel Torremilanos
DO Ribera del Duero; Aranda de Duero, Burgos
33 rooms, four suites
B&B from €101.20 for a double room to €198 for a Junior Suite 
hoteltorremilanos.com

 

The Finca Torremilanos winery hotel makes a comfy and convenient stopping-off point, as it is close to the Madrid-Burgos highway, just outside Aranda. 
The estate has vines dating back to 1903 and farms organically. It encourages oeno-tourism, with ideas for activities here or at other local wineries. 
It is also proud of its Castilian gastronomy, rightly so in a region that celebrates roast lamb and fine vegetables. 
When booking your room you can choose between traditional and modern decor – just like the gastronomy, the Castilian version is surely the one to opt for. Best for a weekend breakMas La BoellaDO Tarragona; La Canonja, Tarragona13 roomsB&B from €132 for a Comfort Room to €184 for the Premium Suite laboella.comThe Mas is all about relaxation. There’s little reason to venture beyond the beautiful gardens. But it’s just a brief step to visit the remarkable Roman remains of Tarragona, the fine beaches along the coast, and of course PortAventura, the theme park that’s a magnet for children. The historic part of the property is the 12th-century country house, where six of the bedrooms are located. It’s only 5km from Reus airport, which makes it convenient for a weekend break. The estate also has 110ha of olive trees, in addition to the 4.5ha of vines, so leave space in your luggage for a gift pack of estate produce: wine, olives and olive oil.

 

Best for fine dining: Hotel Bodega Finca de los Arandinos
DOCa Rioja; Entrena, La Rioja
12 double rooms, two Junior Suites
B&B from €116 for a double room to 
€220 for Junior Suites fincadelosarandinos.com


I discovered Finca de los Arandinos on the recommendation of award-winning sommelier Carlos Echapresto. He and his chef brother run the Michelin-starred Venta Moncalvillo, at Daroca de Rioja nearby. Knowing the quality of his wine list and the cooking, I wanted to stay somewhere that was a convenient taxi ride away. The bonus is the fact that Arandinos is itself a winery. 
The hotel is a bold, white-painted structure standing proud on a promontory outside Entrena, all glass and polished concrete and pale wood inside. One of the architects was Javier Arizcuren, who runs his own eponymous urban winery in Logroño – itself well worth a visit. Arandinos’ wines come from 16ha of vines around Entrena, and are made in the cellar downstairs. They make a good match for the menus in the Scandi-looking hotel restaurant Tierra, which uses local ingredients. After all the eating, you may want to book time at the small but well kitted-out spa, which offers two-hour sessions.

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