Rioja: “The Best Region for Wine Tourism in Spain”

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The Rioja Qualified Denomination of Origin (DOC) has affirmed its leading role as a wine tourism destination. This FITUR 2024, it received the award for “The Best Region for Wine Tourism in Spain from the World Federation of Tourism Journalists in Spain.

Rioja DOC is a reference at both the national and international wine tourism. Factors that contributed to receiving this award:

  • Rioja stands out as the leader in number of visitors and wineries.
  • The wine tourism offerings have made a significant economic impact in a region that might otherwise have become a victim of rural depopulation.
  • Its world-renowned wine production is supported by a wide range of well-developed proposals for visitors. This includes many cultural offerings (festivals, museums, collections, etc.) as well as top-notch accommodations. And let’s not forget the gastronomic resources: from rural and rustic to refined.This region of Spain has something for everyone.
  • Furthermore, its offer is adapted to fit various segments, from couples, families and friends to work or business tourism (MICE).
  • Rioja has also contributed to diversifying and de-seasonalizing tourism in Spain.

No wonder this region is a member of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network! Read more about the GWC network and the 2024 Best of Wine Tourism Bilbao-Rioja winners here.

Rioja Alavesa: Wine tourism in the Basque Rioja

Inside the Rioja DOC we can find different areas. Such as Rioja Alta (upper Rioja), Rioja Baja (lower Rioja) and Rioja Alavesa. This third area is found in the most southern part of the Basque Country. (The Basque Country’s southern province is called “Alava”, hence the name “Rioja Alavasa).

Bioja wine bottles

This is a very special region indeed. Its peculiarity is of course the mix of Basque and Riojan influence. In fact, the cultural landscape of wine and vineyards of La Rioja and Rioja Alavesa is now on the UNESCO’s list of candidates for World Heritage status.

Although the Basque Country itself is a rather young touristic destination, the wine tourism offerings of Rioja Alavesa are very mature, constantly developing and innovating.

New generations of wine professionals are pursuing high-level, specialized studies. Although sometimes they go abroad for this, many come back to their home towns and regions to apply their newly-acquired knowledge and skills. This also applies to the tertiary sector. Entities are also pursuing training in tourism, an ideal complement to the trend in the primary sector.

Visit Rioja Alavesa and become a Wine Important Person

At the beginning of the article we mentioned that Rioja is leader in the number of wineries and visitors in Spain. But far from being a place of mass tourism, in Rioja Alavesa is a region committed to making sure wine tourism stays personal.

They have created concept of “W.I.P.” – Wine Important Person. This slogan is meant to apply to the individual people behind the wine and wine tourism offerings – each one important, no matter where they may lie in the value chain or what their job might be. But it is also meant to apply to the visitors, each one just as important as the other. From person to person, connected by an interest in wine and for this very special part of Rioja.

Romotur DMC and Rioja

Romotur is a DMC specialized in group tourism in the Basque Country. And that of course includes Rioja Alavesa) but also La Rioja. Both of these regions have been at the heart of Romotur’s activity from its very beginning 30+ years ago.

Carmen Romo, CEO and founder of Romotur DMC grown up in Bilbao, but she spent her childhood summers Rioja. To be exact, in her father’s home town, Herramelluri, in Rioja Alta. And the place where you spend your childhood summers…that’s a place that sticks with you your whole life.

In fact, Carmen’s family summer home is still in the family: in 2019, after a thorough reform, she inaugurated Casa Zacarias (after her father, who built the house himself), a charming 2-apartment vacation accommodation in the middle of small-town Rioja. Watch the video here. (English subtitles available).

Coming back to Romotur. We are the agency representing the Bilbao-Rioja wine region in the Great Wine Capitals Global network (see above). Carmen serves on the jury for the GWC’s annual regional awards. For which she conducts countless interviews and visits many wine tourism project award candidates every year. This provides the Romotur team with fresh insights on new developments in the wine tourism sector.  

In other words: If you are looking for a local Basque Country DMC to organize a group trip to the Basque Country and/or Rioja: Romotur is your DMC!