Tour description

Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

An essential independent wine tour that takes in the best wine regions of Spain & France. Taste the wines of La Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Bordeaux, Emporda, Priorat and Penedes on exceptional winery visits. A true wine tour for the oenophile, with our fantastic dining suggestions along the way to sample the local food of each region. Enjoy winery tours and taste the variety of wines enroute; learning about how each terroir and grape varietal creates a specific style of wine. From La Rioja to Bordeaux to Penedes, you will test your palate as you try the variety of wines found in each wine region. Our 25 years of experience and 24/7 assistance, means that your self-drive wine tour of Spain & France can be an easy and relaxing trip: less to plan and more to enjoy! ‘Vive le vin’ on this dream self-drive vacation to Spain & France!


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

On arrival at Madrid airport our chauffeur will be awaiting you with a luxury vehicle and will transfer you to your boutique 4* hotel in the heart of Madrid. Formerly the residence of the Duke of Noblejas, the hotel has maintained its frescoes, mirrors and stained glass whilst being equipped with modern comforts. Relax and unwind after your flight before meeting with our Gourmand Breaks representative, also an Officially Licensed Guide, who will meet you to go through your Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France itinerary and answer any queries you may have. You will also receive your Personal Travel Journals, with itinerary details and plenty of suggestions for restaurants and free time activities.

You will then set off on your private guided tour of Madrid, which will first take you to El Prado Museum, the biggest art gallery in the world. Prado means meadow, and the museum got the name of Prado because there was an open meadow where the museum now sits. Your private guide, additionally qualified in Spanish History and Art, will make sure you don’t miss anything! Your private tour of Madrid will then take you to the Plaza Oriente to see and learn about the Royal Palace – Palacio Real or Palacio Oriente – and the Cathedral. You will then walk through the Old town to the Plaza de la Villa, with the town hall, and on to Mercado de San Miguel, the hottest gastronomic spot in Madrid where its bars and restaurants make it the place to meet in Old Madrid. On your journey you will enjoy some fantastic Spanish food, and a beverage or two, as you sample the best variety of wine and tapas the city has on offer!

Tour in a nutshell: Chauffeured transfer from Madrid airport. Private guided tour of Old Madrid. Lunch of tapas and wine on your tapas-hopping tour. Overnight in a 4* boutique hotel in Madrid.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

This morning a representative of the rental car company will be waiting with your luxury rental car with automatic transmission and GPS and you will then leave for the Spanish wine region of Ribera del Duero. On arrival you will check into your hotel for the night, a truly wonderful restored Monastery, attached to one of the finest wineries in Ribera del Duero. This very special winery/hotel is set like a jewel among the string of exclusive wine estates found along the Duero river. If the heart of the estate is the winery, its soul is the ancient 12th-century abbey, a beloved and carefully restored Spanish cultural heritage site that houses one of the world’s most exclusive wine hotels. Take some time to settle into this wonderful hotel where later you will have a full private tour of their lovely winery. Located in the heart of the Spanish winegrowing Golden Mile, this winery owns over 200 hectares of vineyard and is one of Spain’s most modern wineries. After your unforgettable visit, you will have the pleasure of enjoying a full tasting of their best wines.

The rest of your day is free to explore your luxury hotel, the monastery and surrounding grounds. The exquisite hotel spa is a true gem, worth spending a whole afternoon. Should you wish to venture outside, why not see beautiful Penafiel, a medieval walled village set atop a cliff overlooking the Duero River? Winemaking is a serious business here, so what better place to locate the museum of wine? Situated over three floors of Penafiel Castle, this museum is really worth a visit and we strongly recommend it.

Tour in a nutshell: Luxury rental car delivered to your Madrid hotel. Private guided tour of your Ribera del Duero hotel’s prestigious winery with tastings. Overnight in a 5* winery hotel in Ribera del Duero.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

Your independent food & wine tour leads you to the Rioja wine region, just under 3 hours’ drive away. You will arrive in Briones, the heart of the Rioja Alta, which has old vineyards of Tempranillo grapes and a chalky soil. Here you will visit one of the smallest and youngest wineries in Spain. Twenty years ago, the owner restored a 19th Century house and on the adjoining land, built facilities for vinification and planted an experimental vineyard. Their first vintage was 1994, nevertheless their cult wines are among the most prestigious in the country and they are exporting them to over 30 markets. The gracious owner will show you the winemaking facilities followed by a tasting of their very fine wines. Afterwards you will visit the Dinastia Vivanco Wine Museum, the largest wine museum in Spain, containing multimedia information on everything from corks and how they are made, to the blowing of bottles; a perfect introduction to La Rioja wine region!

Afterwards you will leave for your charming 4 star hotel located in the heart of very pretty Laguardia, one of the most perfectly preserved medieval villages of Spain. This medieval hill hamlet (called “villa” in Spanish), reminiscent of Tuscan hilltop villages, is surrounded by an ancient wall, and has a delightful jumble of cobblestoned streets lined with “tabernas”, wine shops, palaces, and cafes. May we suggest you relax after your long day and perhaps enjoy dinner at your hotel this evening. As always, you will find many suggestions for restaurants in your Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France Personal Travel Website and Personal Travel Journal.

Tour in a nutshell: Private guided tour of a prestigious La Rioja winery. Visit to the Vivanco Wine Museum and cellar. Overnight in La Rioja wine region.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

Your wine adventure continues to Haro, one of Rioja’s iconic winemaking villages. First you will have a tour of a unique, family-run winery. Proud of being old-fashioned, they still construct their own barrels on site. For over a hundred and thirty years, the family members have devoted themselves to vineyard care, a scrupulous selection of grapes, and ageing in oak barrels in the heart of deep underground galleries. Special mention ought to be made of their white wines, as well. This bodega ages their white wines in oak for as long as their reds; so the result is much more intriguing than you would normally expect of white. You’ll have an excellent tour of the facilities finalised with a tasting of their signature drops. After this impressive La Rioja winery visit, take time to relax over lunch at a local restaurant-inn; enjoying the regional specialties. Later this afternoon you can pop into more wineries at your leisure; provided in your Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France Personal Travel Website and Personal Travel Journal.

Upon returning to Laguardia, stroll out to explore this very pretty town, whose streets and squares have perfectly conserved their medieval atmosphere. We suggest you dine La Rioja-style at your hotel’s main restaurant this evening, which offers hearty dishes made with regional products of exceptional quality. If you’re after something lighter, you can always dine in the hotel’s 16th century atmospheric cellar, which offers delicious tapas options. Not only do these extensive caves keep the wine and food at a constant temperature throughout the year, they were once used as shelter during the ancient days of armed conflict.

Tour in a nutshell: Guided visit to a prestigious La Rioja winery with sampling of their wines. More wine tastings upon request. Overnight in La Rioja.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

This morning you leave for Bordeaux, but your journey takes you so near to San Sebastian that we strongly suggest you stop for lunch and have a wander around this wonderful “beach in the city”, renowned as the best city to eat in Spain (if not the World!) We will gladly provide you suggestions in your Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France Personal Travel Journal, for the most interesting parts of the city. Make sure to stop by a few pintxos bars, to sample the specialties of each place, accompanied by Txakoli wine.

Next you will take in the splendour of the legendary Bordeaux wine region, the home of the most sought-after and expensive wines in the world. Bordeaux has 57 appellations, with about 7,000 wine-producing chateaux and 13,000 wine growers! The climate in Bordeaux is generally temperate with a short winter and a high degree of humidity generated by the close proximity of the Atlantic Ocean. The large diversity of Bordeaux wine suggests an equal diversity of soil – gravels coming from the Pyrenees mountains, clay-limestone and clay, sand and limestone. Bordeaux’s reputation as a great wine region rests on its most superb reds, legendary and long-lived wines made by historic wine estates (chateaux), which can improve for several decades. About 75 to 80 percent of Bordeaux’s wines are red, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which give vigor, tannin and excellent cellaring qualities, and Merlot which brings a softness and suppleness. White wines are produced mostly from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and sometimes also Muscatel. Your hotel is a delightful Chateau in the heart of the region, ideal for relaxing after your long day.

Tour in a nutshell: Possible sojourn in San Sebastian. Overnight in a Chateau in the Bordeaux wine region.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

Your first visit of the day will be to a leading winery Chateau. which is the oldest wine estate in Bordeaux having harvested its 700th vintage in 2006! The Chateau has a fascinating past and takes its name from the first French Pope, who was presented with the estate in the 1300s. In honour of this, there is a recreated chapel below the chateau, complete with a crypt, marble sarcophagus and piped organ music. The vineyards cover 80 acres, producing marvelous concentrated, elegant reds with a purity of style- full bodied, well structured and smooth, with flavours of smoky ripe plum, tobacco, earthy coffee and chocolate. The whites are full bodied with undertones of honey, apricots and melons, with a refreshing vibrancy. At the end of your private VIP tour you will enjoy a very special tasting with the winery sommelier who will introduce you to their great wines. In your Personal Travel Journal are many restaurant suggestions for lunch, but our personal favourite is in the village center with comfort food to die for!

In the afternoon you will leave for Leognan to visit a chateau that produces Grand Cru wines, having an opportunity to visit their ancient cellars and production facilities prior to tasting their fine wines. The proprietors do their utmost to ensure that every vintage of their red and white wines reflects the full potential of their magnificent terroir. Their efforts range from increasingly organic vineyard management and slow natural fermentation of the grapes to ageing the wine in superb underground cellars and serving it to wine lovers in an appropriate tasting room.

Tour in a nutshell: Private guided visits to two prestigious wineries with wine tastings. Overnight in Bordeaux.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

After a delicious breakfast at your hotel this morning, you will visit a very special winery, located in the beautiful little village of Bages, in Pauillac. Purchased by the late Jean-Charles Cazes, the chateau is currently under the watch of his grandson Jean-Michel and his great-grandson Jean-Charles II. The immaculate chateau and winery often stage art exhibitions, and there is a permanent collection of traditional wine presses and other winemaking equipment in the attractive 19th century vat room. They have retained a number of the older oak fermentation vats used between the early 1900’s and 1975. It’s amazing that such an expensive and prestigious wine could have been made using such rustic tools for so long! You will have a full tour of the facilities followed by a sampling of their best wines.

Afterwards you will have a chance to visit the town of Bordeaux itself. The panoramic view of Bordeaux from the river is breathtaking and elegant. Enjoying the climate of northern California, this UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 350 classified historic buildings is also part of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela and centre to the world’s most spectacular wines, with excellent food,too. Begin with a stroll through the Place de la Comedie, which sits atop the ancient Roman forum. Admire the beautiful Grand Theatre, built in the late 1700s and now a venue for opera and events. Over the next few hours, take in all the sights including the striking Place de la Bourse, the impressive Grosse Cloche, and the ethereal 11th century Cathedrale Saint-Andre.

Tour in a nutshell: Private guided visit to a prestigious winery with wine tasting. Overnight Bordeaux.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

This morning you will be driving across France towards French and Spanish Catalonia. On the way, you will enjoy an overnight stop at picturesque Carcassonne, a perfectly restored, medieval walled fortress town which sits majestically above the River Aude and Canal du Midi. Carcassonne has an entire city that is a castle, in La Cite, the fortified upper city; it is an excellent example of a medieval fortified town whose massive defences were constructed on walls dating from Late Antiquity. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, browsing shops selling antique wares and try the classic peasant stew cassoulet at one of the many bistrots. Should you wish to enjoy a private tour of the castle with our excellent Carcassonne guide, please let us know.

Your Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France has you staying at a lovely hotel, overlooking Carcassonne with its castle and drawbridge, nestled in greenery, and offering you a haven of tranquility where you can recharge your batteries after your French cross-country journey. This delightful hotel is sophisticated yet comfortable. It is only a 5 minute walk away from the main monuments and ideal for discovering the city and all its secrets, so this evening you may like to walk out and enjoy the gentle thrum of this village. We have various restaurant suggestions for tonight, in and around the area, for a fantastic and very French dinner!

Tour in a nutshell: Visit to Carcassonne; Overnight at a charming 4* boutique hotel in Carcassonne.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

Today your Essential Wine Tour has you continuing your journey back into Spain, to the Emporda wine region. On the way, why not make a visit to the spectacular French castle of Peyrepertuse? It is the largest of the famous Cathar castles, offering spectacular views over Languedoc, its sister castle Queribus, the Pyrenees and even the Mediterranean sea. For lunch, we suggest a stop at a nearby French village – a lovely unspoiled spot, perfectly located on a small hill in the valley bottom between the Peyrepertuse and the Queribus castles. There are a few restaurants, our favorite having a view from the terrace seating which is lovely and their house specialty cassoulet is outstanding!

On arrival in the Emporda wine region, you will check into your charming hotel, near to the Costa Brava and the fishing town of Palamos. The road that leads to your restored masia hotel is in the privileged setting of Les Gavarres, a protected and beautiful natural area of Spain. The dirt road winds through fields and forests, vineyards, pine trees, oak trees, olive trees… and as a backdrop, the Mediterranean Sea. The setting is beautiful, a space where architecture, wine and nature blend in harmony. The hotel also has its very own special modern winery, which you will certainly have time to visit! The architects who designed this winery won the prestigious Pritzker prize for their vision of a wine estate which melds perfectly into the earth. After your journey, why not enjoy a delicious dinner at your hotel, sampling their homegrown produce and wine, overlooking the magnificent vineyards.

Tour in a nutshell: Visit to Cathar Castles. Overnight in a rural winery hotel in the Emporda wine region.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

This morning, take a drive out to discover the fascinating medieval villages nearby. As always, we will provide all the necessary info and directions and/or arrange local transportation for you. Walk through the narrow streets of medieval Pals, next to the city walls, towers and churches, you will feel as though you have stepped back in time. The stone archways, cobblestone streets and wrought balconies adorned with flowers create a welcoming feel in this Romanesque village. Continue to the exquisite village of Peratallada, where you will surely enjoy a wander around the tiny cobbled streets to browse artisan goods. Your “medieval journey” continues to another village, where you are booked for lunch. A delicious lunch of local Catalan country fare with Emporda wine, at an authentic stone farmhouse that has been converted into a delightful restaurant. Take your time over lunch, it is a casual affair in the medieval villages!

This afternoon, back at your hotel, you will have a private winery tour, followed by a tasting of their signature wines, in the company of their in house wine specialist. The vineyards surrounding the area are cultivated organically and harvesting is done entirely by hand. Following this, there is a further exhaustive selection process to ensure that each and every grape is of the highest quality to produce the finest of wines. You will have a full private tour of the facilities at this awe-inspiring winery, followed by a tasting of their very best wines, in the company of their in house wine specialist. This evening, why not head out for dinner to the nearby Fisherman’s Port of Palamos – famed for its red prawns.

Tour in a nutshell: Medieval Emporda countryside villages. Regional fare lunch with wine. Private visit to your hotel’s winery.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

Today your Essential Wine journey continues to the Penedes Wine Region, just south of Barcelona, where you will be staying in a charming rural hotel for the next two days. Situated in the heart of Penedes, this masia is surrounded by vineyards and typical crops of the area, where you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the mountains of Montserrat. The main house dates from the beginning of the 1900’s with characteristic architectural elements inspired by the rural surroundings. Over the years the house has been well modernised and a large secluded garden is composed of vines, fruit trees, an ecological vegetable garden and numerous small corners that invite you to relax and listen to the rhythm of country life.

Later this afternoon, you will make an unforgettable visit to an exceptional vineyard, owned by one family since 1790 and situated in the heart of the Penedes wine region. An in-house expert will take you on a private tour of the vineyards, which have been ecologically cultivated for more than 300 years. Back at the cellar, the in-house oenologist will show you the entire wine making process and finally guide you through your complete tasting of an array of ecological and organic varieties of wines and cavas. Additionally, the vineyard owners make their own olive oil, and they will gladly explain to you the process and properties of this “liquid gold” and will invite you for a tasting, accompanied by local sausages, bread and cheese. On returning to your lovely hotel, why not sit by the pool and take a sip of cava, or two, prior to having a delicious dinner of local produce together with local Penedes wine?

Tour in a nutshell: Private guided visit to prestigious winery with wine tasting. Overnight in a charming masia in Penedes.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

The prestigious and remote wine region of Priorat is yours to taste today! Your first visit will be a tour of a family-owned wine cellar awarded one of Robert Parker’s highest ratings. The family has built their winery on one of the oldest estates in Priorat, from the 13th century! Recognising an unusual combination of topography, soil and climate, a unique “terroir”, and a one thousand year old wine-making tradition, they started a project to re-awaken the spirit of the old Carthusian oenologists. One of the family members will be there to attend you and share with you the secrets of their world class wine. Afterwards you will enjoy a personalized wine tasting.

Onwards to lunch at a winery/restaurant now owned by a reputed wine merchant from Bordeaux. The property has 18 hectares, of which about 12 are planted with Grenache, Carignan (some over 60 years old), Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, Viognier and Chenin Blanc. You will enjoy a short visit to this exceptional winery and see their unique cellar, located in the old village underground water deposit, followed by lunch in their restaurant, with wine pairings, of course! After lunch you will visit ‘a must’ for any serious Spanish wine aficionado, finishing your winery tour with their excellent tastings. Owned by Rene Barbier, one of the founders of the Priorat revolution, this emblematic winery is named after the single vineyard that Rene started to cultivate in the 1970’s in the now-famous wine village of Gratallops. And so back to Penedes after your wonderful day in Priorat and perhaps you will be happy to put your feet up and relax now – maybe have dinner at your hotel or at one of the local restaurants.

Tour in a nutshell: Private visits to three prestigious Priorat wineries with wine tastings. Regional lunch with wine. Overnight in the Penedes wine region.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

Today you return to Barcelona, but before leaving the Penedes wine region, you will make one final winery visit, to a winery which specialises in organic wine production. With four generations of wine-producing tradition, this was the first winery in Spain to produce organic wine and Cava. Organic wine is not only wine made from organically grown grapes, but the regulations insist that the quantity of sulphur dioxide used, must be around half the amount permitted in a conventional wine. This means that this cellar is required to maintain a level of hygiene and wine making processes far superior to that of a conventional cellar. You will have a full tour of the facilities followed by a sampling of their beautiful wines. For lunch, you will now drive to a nearby ancient settlement. This lovely Penedes village, with its tiny houses and cobbled streets huddled around a giant rock, offers uninterrupted views of Penedes vineyards with the Montserrat mountains as a backdrop. Apart from the magnificent views, you will visit the atmospheric 10th Century castle and the beautiful Romanesque church of Santa Maria which stand proudly at the top of the hill. You will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in the village that pairs all of their dishes with wines to further celebrate both the local food and wines of the region.

In Barcelona you will drop off your rental vehicle at the local office and take a taxi to your 4-star hotel in the Gothic Quarter. We have many suggestions in your Essential Wine Spain & France Tour Personal Travel Journal for dinner tonight!

Tour in a nutshell: Private guided visit to a prestigious Penedes winery with wine tasting to follow. Overnight in a 4* luxury hotel in Barcelona.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

This is the final full day of your Essential Wine Tour to explore Barcelona and all it has to offer!

Optionally: May we suggest a food and wine tour of the Gothic quarter of Barcelona? Meet with our Officially Licensed Barcelona Guide, and set off for La Boqueria market, the largest marketplace in Spain. You will be led through the maze of booths, with a kaleidoscope of colors, to visit those considered the best. Sample seasonal local produce at one of La Boqueria’s most famous bars. You will also pass a few architectural feats; the famous Sant Jaume Square and Barcelona Cathedral, as well as Santa Maria del Mar Church, which is a beautiful and noted 14th-century church and is considered the finest and most complete example of Catalan Gothic architecture. Your adventure continues when you enjoy a taste of some of the best Spanish cheeses paired with some excellent local wine at a charming local cheese shop. For something sweet, you will stop at the oldest venue in Barcelona for a sampling of fruits, dried nuts and homemade nougats. and This quaint and local store, specializing in roasting coffee beans and nuts for over 150 years, is still decorated with its original furniture and old wood-burning stove. Your light lunch of exquisite tapas will include Spain’s best Iberian bellota ham, Joselito, fine cold meats and sausages, the finest wild tuna, anchovies, clams from Galicia, a selection of the best Spanish olive oils, cheeses, salads, etc., all enjoyed at one of the best delicatessens in the city. Winewise, you will be in very good hands, with English speaking sommeliers, to guide you through more than 6000 wines!

Tour in a nutshell: Optional Cultural & Gourmet Walking Tour of Barcelona. Overnight Barcelona.


Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

This is the last day of your Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France! After checking out of your hotel, our chauffeur will be waiting to transfer you to Barcelona airport for your onward journey.

We do hope you will join us for this very exciting tour, to discover some of the best wine regions in Spain and France, as well as eating delicious regional food and experiencing local culture. It will be a truly memorable experience!

Tour in a nutshell: Chauffeured transfer to Barcelona airport.

Tour quotation

Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France Quote Request

We are excited that you are considering joining us on one of our fabulous custom-built tours of Spain, Portugal, SW France and/or Italy! Please fill in the form below and we will happily provide you with a non-committal initial quote for the sample tour itinerary chosen.

In case you would prefer us to build a personal tour proposal for you from scratch, please e-mail us at [email protected] and we will be delighted to start working with you on your personal and very special travel itinerary with us.

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Essential Wine Tour of Spain & France

Tour in a Nutshell

Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Bordeaux, Priorat & Penedes

Prestigious wineries, hidden cellars & wine tastings

Regional food, beautiful scenery & private guided cultural tours

Luxury rental vehicle & 24/7 assistance: easy self-drive vacation

15 days/14 nights, hand-picked boutique hotels

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