THE BEST WAY TO BILBAO, SPAIN
From LAX, Air France, Lufthansa and British offer connecting service (change of plane) to Bilbao. Restricted round-trip fares range from $1109 to $1,480, including fees and taxes. Haro is about an hour's drive south of Bilbao.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 34 (country code for Spain) and the local number.
Unlike some of the new farflung wine regions in Spain, wineries in La Rioja are set up for tourists and welcome them. In recent years, it's become fashionable in Spain to spend weekends in the wine country. And with the exception of a few smaller high-end estates, you don't have to be in the wine business to arrange for a visit and tasting. Visits often can be reserved online. Most estates offer tours in English, and at some you can sign up for picnics, special tastings or a Jeep tour through the vineyards.
Bodegas Muga, Barrio de la Estación, Haro; (941) 31-18-25, http://www.bodegasmuga.com. Winery tour, vineyard tour and tasting courses. Wine bar too.
López de Heredia, Avenida de Vizcaya, Barrio de la Estación, Haro; (941) 310-244, http://www.lopezdeheredia.com. Visits by prior arrangement. Tasting pavilion with wine bar.
Roda, Avenida de Vizcaya, Barrio de la Estación, Haro; (941) 30-30-01, http://www.roda.es. To arrange a visit (about $13.50) email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (941) 312-187. Next door to López de Heredia, modern glass winery with cellars built into the hillside. They make good olive oil too. Wine bar with balcony overlooking the Ebro River.
CVNE, Barrio de la Estación, Haro; (941) 30-48-09, http://www.cvne.com. 90-minute winery tour and tasting, about $11; gourmet wine tasting, about $34.
Elsewhere in La Rioja
Contino, Finca San Rafael, Laserna; (945) 60-02-01, http://www.cvne.com. Winery tour and tasting, about $13.50; gourmet tasting, about $40.
La Rioja Alta, Avenida de Vizcaya, Haro; (941) 31-03-46, http://www.riojaalta.com. NOT WORKING FOR ME 90-minute tour and tasting, about $11.
Viña Real, Cerro de la Mesa, Laguardia; (941) 30-48-09, http://www.cvne.com. Vat-shaped contemporary winery with great views over Rioja Alavesa. Walking tour of vineyards and picnic (in summer), about $68. Guided tour of winery and tasting, about $20.
Marqués de Murrieta, Carretera Logroño-Zaragoza, Logroño; (917) 27-13-74, http://www.marquesdemurrieta.com. Visits by appointment only, email email@example.com. Founded in 1852, the estate has just reopened to visitors after a six-year renovation of the cellars and and the visitors area.
Marqués de Riscal, 1 Calle Torrea, Elciego; (945) 60-60-00, http://www.marquesderiscal.com. Buy tickets online (about $14) for visits.
TO LEARN MORE
La Rioja Tourism, http://www.lariojaturismo.com
Haro Tourism, http://www.haroturismo.org/en