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Tempel to Bacchus: The Rioja Alavesa wine route
Wine has been cultivated in Rioja Alavesa since Roman times. In the region's temperate climate - bordered by the Ebro River to the south and protected from the cold Atlantic winds by the mighty Sierra Cantabrica Mountains to the north - Tempranillo, Carnacha and Marzuelo thrive excellently. And are developed into top quality products by the cellar masters of more than 300 wineries.
Some of the wineries - such as Bodega Ysios in Languardia or Baigorri in Samaniego - are avant-garde masterpieces of architecture.
Others are located in ancient underground facilities called calados. They can all be visited on the Ruta del Vino de Rioja Alavesa.
The wine route includes more than 100 establishments: Vineyards and wine shops, hotels in the middle of the vineyards and restaurants serving regional wines to accompany the - rightly - world-famous Basque cuisine.
Wine museums and wellness centres with vinotherapy. But also olive groves and mills.
The cultural heritage of the region is also worth a visit: many villages boast with stately mansions from the Renaissance, Baroque or Neoclassical periods.
There are medieval fortresses and churches of impressive beauty such as the Iglesia de Santa María de los Reyes in La Guardia.
The wine route also has a lot to offer in terms of landscape. Hikes, bicycle tours and horse rides through the vineyards or along the Way of St. James are organized.
On the excursions you will come across mysterious dolmens from the Neolithic Age, centuries-old chestnut groves or vast salt lakes where you can observe coot or purple herons.