Campo Viejo Winery La Rioja Spain
A day in the Campo Viejo Winery for the start of the harvest season.
They say “If you want to discover the true taste of Rioja, there is no better place than Campo Viejo winery” and I could not agree more. I had such an amazing time on my press trip to Campo Viejo Winery, La Roja Spain for the start of the Harvest season, I didn’t want to come back home. I harvested grapes, I ate tapas with the locals in Logrono and explored the famous Guggenheim museum in Bilbao on my way home.
The press trip to northern Spain was organised by Campo Viejo Winery and Iris Worldwide to show bloggers and journalists the beauty of La Rioja region and the hard work that goes behind each bottle of Campo Viejo. Also to celebrate the Spanish festivities of the start Harvest season when the grapes are ripe in September and October.
At the same time it provided a unique opportunity to discover and learn about Campo Viejo Rioja’s biggest producing winery – From learning to pick grapes the correct way (I am a pro now), to seeing the whole processes of grapes being fermented and turned into wine, to meeting the winemakers who are discovering new and creative wines in the nano winery.
Learning How to pick grapes
We only just arrived at the Campo Viejo Winery and I had already taken at least a hundred photos (it is very instagrammable) before we had even done anything. It was time to go harvest the grapes and get our hands dirty. We were introduced to the staff and were kitted out with our gear. Donning my hi-vis vest, protective goggles, gloves, gumboots and garden scissors, I felt like a professional grape picker.
Harvesting is very dependent on weather as it can only happen on sunny days and lucky for us, we had a beautiful sunny day. We spent about an hour learning how to cut the grapes correctly from the vine and cutting the white grapes ourselves and filling the tubs in a pair. I have to admit though, my grape partner and I got a little distracted eating the grapes and taking pictures and only filled one tub 🙂
Before we moved on to the winery to process the grapes and make wine, I notice that a table was set up in the middle of the Campo Viejo winery fields. It was covered with what looked like succulent ham, Spanish omelette, bread and of course some of the famous Campo Viejo wine to wash it all down. It looked like something straight out of a movie set and I didn’t want to mess it up and eat but I did and it was so delicious.
I thought, if this is only a snack, I can not wait to see what we have for lunch and dinner.
The winery to process the grapes and make wine
With a satisfied tummy of food & wine, we headed over to the newly built (completed in 2013) Campo Viejo’s nano-winery. It was also the first time that I realised the scale of this huge construction underneath the winery when walking through. The nano-winery was designed to allow Campo Viejo’s winemakers to be experimental and test the new varieties and improve their production techniques. If successful, then it is implemented into bigger scales.
It was in here that we completed the next process of grapes being turned into juice and learnt about fermentation. As our grapes were lifted onto the conveyor belt we needed to sort by hand by removing the dry or mouldy ones and also any creepy crawlies like bugs and spiders (yes there was spiders). Then it transfers into a machine that removes the stalks and steams off the skins. The grapes are then pressed into a sweet, fresh juice.
From here it is transferred to fermentation tanks, where the sugar is released from the juice and is turned into alcohol. The wine is tasted every morning by one of the winemakers to check that the fermentation is progressing well and that the temperature in the tanks are right. We were able to taste the juice at two different stages, once when it has started fermenting (more juice than alcohol) and the second when it had nearly all changed to alcohol. It was great to hear from the winemakers and test the wine at different stages, as it allowed us to understand more about the process and the flavours. Once the wines are fermented, they are blended and aged in oak barrels or bottles for various lengths of time.
The Celler and Barrel ageing room
As we stroll through the underground building you can not help but be flabbergasted by the sheer size of this amazing construction, everywhere you walk there is a huge door with production happening behind it. I felt like I was a kid in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory being intrigued wanting to know what was going on in all the rooms.
We took a quick stop at the largest underground cellar I have seen, with I think over 6 million bottles in storage. The rows of bottles just went on and on and didn’t seem to stop. No wonder why they are one of the biggest selling wines in the world. All the bottles are carefully placed in sections in order to make sure that everything is consistent with the different types of wines and ages.
From there we headed over to the Barrel ageing room and not only is it one of the most impressive barrel ageing rooms I have ever seen but probably my favourite area (if you could call it that) at the winery. I have never seen so many barrels of wine before in my life and I am sure there was enough in there to supply a whole country for years. I even joked that if the world ended, I was coming here to live out my life a happy person.
It is not even just the bottles or the volume of Barrels that fill this room but the whole design that has gone into creating such an area, even when you look at the very large scale window, it looks like a painting and not the actual landscape that is outside. As quoted by the architect himself Ignacio Quemada “What a beautiful place, where do I put 45,ooo sq.m. without ruining it”
Painting with Wine
Yes, you read the heading correctly, we had the fun experience of creating a picture by staining a piece of paper (the artist usually uses fabric) with red wine and using a wax resist to build a light/dark pattern. Don’t worry though as we didn’t use too much of the wine, we were drinking it as much as we were painting with it.
Private dinner at Campo Viejo winery
Our day could not have ended any better than with a delicious barbecued dinner cooked on coals with a glass of Cava to start and then on to the wines. While mingling with the other bloggers and winemakers with one of the most amazing sunsets that I have seen in while that looked like the sky was on fire.
I stopped and thought for a minute that I appreciated the fact that the winemakers loved their jobs so much and it showed especially with their knowledge and for really taking the time to explain the winery to us. Not only did I go away with some great memories of the day but I also got to learn something new not just about Campo Viejo Wine but the process of wine making in general.
A great end to a fantastic day spent with lovely people at the Campo Viejo Winery!
The Campo Viejo Winery
Founded by two local winemakers Beristain and Ortigüela in 1959, the winery as you see it today was only opened in 2001. The Campo Viejo winery is definitely one of a kind, a warm stone coloured modern building on a sunny hilltop taking advantage of the views across the La Roja region. With a huge and well managed operation constructed underground to create dark, serene areas. It is certainly not a winery of dusty dank cellars, it’s a modern marvel that evokes the feeling of traditional Rioja wineries.
Some of the Campo Viejo Rioja Wines
- Campo Viejo Tempranillo (a bold wine, but also very versatile to pair with many dishes)
- The Garnacha (a great summer red and the fruitiest of Campo Viejo wines)
- The Reserva (a more complex, spiced wine, aged 18 months in barrel and 18 months in the bottle)
- Gran Reserva (made with specially selected grapes and aged for two years in barrel and three years in the bottle)
New Release -Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva
New for the season and just in time for Christmas is the new Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva. I have to admit this is one of my favourites but I do like bubbles through which girl doesn’t?
Here are a few words from Campo Viejo wine and champagne expert, Kate Bedwell about what makes it so special
How is it made?
A blend of three local grape varieties Parellada, Xarello & Macabeo, made in the traditional method, ‘metódo traditional’, which is the same way that Champagne is made
What makes it special?
Campo Viejo Cava is aged for an additional 15 months before it’s released, so it develops delicious complexity in the bottle, making it more interesting to drink – it develops delicate biscuit-y aromas!
What does it taste like?
The flavours are full of zesty citrus notes: lemon, lime, with a touch of green apple, and a delicate creaminess that comes from time the Cava has spent the bottle-ageing.
Campo Viejo Winery Location
Located just 5klms away from the capital city Logrono and right in the middle of the Rioja country is the Campo Viejo Winery. Perched on a small mountain that has some of (or considered the best) views across the La Rioja Region, Spain.
The closest international airport is Logrono but is small and the flights are not regular and tend to be more expensive. You would be best to fly to Bilbao, as the flights are more frequent and also more options in regards to transfers to La Rioja Region or Logrono. From there you can get a transfer or hire a car
Tips for Campo Viejo Winery
- Book your wine tour online for the Campo Viejo Winery to guarantee a spot & time.
- Use Logrono as your base during your trip, from there is only 15minutes car ride to Campo Viejo winery
- If you do stay in Logrono, I recommend Hotel Boutique Marqués de Vallejo which is where I stayed.
- Take an extra few days (or day) and stay in the picturesque city of Bilbao
CampoViejo Winery Helpful Information:
What to expect on the tour
If you take a Campo Viejo Winery tour you will see how wines are made, learn and understand their environmentally friendly practices. Not to mention enjoy a wine tasting session of their favourite vintages.
- 10.30 am, 1 pm & 3 pm on weekdays
- 10.30 am, 1 pm on weekends
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you were able to learn a little bit more about Campo Viejo Winery La Roja Spain and helped you in deciding to a wine tour there. If you are interested in discovering more of Spain you can check out my posts on Why Mountain Bike Riding in Galicia Spain should be on your list
Have you been to Campo Verjio or Logrono before? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Even though I was invited by the Campo Viejo Winery All views are my own and based on my own experience.