English Lakes Hotels are very involved in where our products comes from and how it gets to us. A team of hotel managers and directors visited one of our wine producers recently and saw how some of our specialty and house wines are produced and stored. Matt Stanaway, Hotel Operations Director, tells us about their trip…
We flew into northern Spain’s Bilbao airport on Wednesday, 30th March and made our way through hilly countryside to Logroño, right in the heart of Rioja wine country. This is a charming little city, well known for the tapas spots around Calle Laurel, which is exactly where we headed for some tasty food and great wine accompaniments.
Left to Right: Andy Lemm, The Midland Manager, Mark Needham, Low Wood Bay Manager, Adam Bujok, The Wild Boar Inn Manager, Matt Wilkinson, English Lakes Finance Director and Matt Stanaway, Hotel Operations Director
Rioja Vega Vineyard
On Thursday morning we were treated to a guided tour around the Rioja Vega winery, the cellars and vineyards. We learnt that different parts of the vineyard exhibit unique characteristics, or ‘terroir’. This is just all the factors that go into creating the specific wine grapes, from the climate, soil, elevation. The terroir is that unique sense of place, and Rioja Vega pride themselves in having several terroirs, making it possible to create a range of different wines and blends.
Different grape varieties at Rioja Vega
There are over 600 wine producers in Rioja and there’s evidence to suggest that wine has been produced in this region of Spain from Roman times. The pilgrimage route Camino de Santiago passes the area and travellers from all over the world were offered wine when they stayed at the monasteries along the way.
Rioja Vega dates back to 1882 when French wine producers, devastated by a pest infestation on their lands, arrived in Spain looking for suitable soil to grow their vines. Felipe Ugalde, who later joined forces with the Muerza family, learnt from the French pioneers and they went on to became experts in their field, literally. This knowledge and expertise has been passed down the generations for more than 125 years.
After our tour around the site, Luis Marculetta from Rioja Vega hosted a tutored wine tasting where our palettes were treated to some amazing wines and vintages.
On Friday we visited the Cooperage where they make the barrels that Rioja Vega is aged in and found out about the distinctive taste that these create in the wines.
English Lakes Hotels Spanish house wines come from the Navarra region and we finished off our trip to this amazing part of the world with a 50 km journey north west to the Principe de Vianna winery in the Navarra region.
We made our way back through the snow to Bilbao armed with much better understanding of the amazing Rioja wines that we serve in our restaurants, and the time that it takes to make a really good wine. Rioja Vega recently won two ‘Master of Rioja’ awards and a Gold Medal at the Rioja Masters 2021 contest hosted by the UK magazine ‘The Drinks Business’, one of the most influential publications in the wine sector.