Celebrating the Harvest in Rioja

Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival
Harvest Festival
Harvest Festival

The harvest is coming! The harvest is coming! As the harvest approaches in October, September is the time to celebrate at the Rioja Wine Harvest Festival (or "Fiesta de San Mateo") in Logroño, the capital of the Rioja region. The fiesta is a week-long festival beginning September 21, in which the Spaniards celebrate the grape harvest. At this fun-filled party exploding with local Spanish culture, visitors and residents parade around in costumes with monstrous heads (called Cabezudos) as the town celebrates with music, fireworks, bullfighting, dancing and tapas. And gallons and gallons of Rioja wine of course!

During the festival, party-goers, musicians, children and the Cabezudos all gather at the Town Hall. From there, they parade to the Gran Via, the famous wine fountain that spews "wine" high into the sky in honor of Saint Matthew. (Actually, it's really water colored red, pink and white to symbolize the different types of Rioja wines.) Another spectator favorite is the foot-crushing of the grapes, which is part of the "offering of the first must." During this event, wine makers fill buckets full of Rioja grapes (first of the season) and trample them under foot to create an offering for the Virgin of Valvanera, a patron saint of Rioja. Join in the festivities and raise a glass of wine to this honored festival and the great region of Rioja!

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Rioja Baja Spotlight on Rioja Baja – A Region in Renaissance

Unlike the other two subregions of Rioja, Rioja Baja is influenced by a Mediterranean climate that makes the area warmer and drier, with intense sunshine during the summer months. The largest of the three subregions, Rioja Baja is famous for its rich soils deeply colored Garnacha grapes that lend greater ripeness and alcohol, as well as a more powerful expression of Tempranillo.

Rioja Baja is currently experiencing a true renaissance with more wineries opening each year. While traditionally known for grapes used in Rioja blends, some winemakers are increasingly impressed with the area's offering in its own right. This increased focus on the vine is evident through the support of well-known wineries, such as Bodegas Palacios and Barón de Ley, who have long believed in Rioja Baja's potential to produce wines of great expression and character. Other impressive wineries in the region include the historic Marqués de Murrieta, located on the western edge, as well as family-run Bodegas Ontañón.

Together these wineries are changing the face of Rioja Baja and making it truly a region to watch!

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Rioja in the Huffington Post
We are thrilled that Richard Jennings, writer for the Huffington Post, has begun a "Rioja Gems" series, where he focuses on a different winemaker in each piece. His first article "Rioja Gems Part I: Bodegas Franco-Españolas," opens up with an endearing narrative of his time spent in Rioja. He speaks very highly of the wines and the history. He wrote an extended version of this article on his personal blog, which you can read here.

Highlights include:

  • I returned home with a deep appreciation and love for this beautiful, long valley, which is producing terrific wines, many of which are also amazing values.
  • In other words, it's ridiculously picturesque. Add to that wonderful food -- largely from delicious, locally produced fruits, vegetables and meats; gracious and warm people; a long, quality winemaking tradition and very serious winemakers. What more can a wine lover ask for?
header Rioja Tastings

Here is just a sampling of our tasting events across the country in September. To view all our upcoming events visit our online calendar.



Rioja Wine Tasting at New Hampshire Liquor Store 69 - Nashua
Thursday, September 20 4-6pm

Rioja tasting at Calvert Woodley - Washington, D.C.
Saturday, September 22 1-4pm

Rioja Wine Tasting at New Hampshire Liquor Store 34 - Salem
Friday, September 28 4-6pm



Rioja at Binny's "Taste at the Track" - Arlington Park
Saturday, September 8 1-5pm
$30 per person



Rioja Wine Tasting at "A Taste for Learning" with ABC Fine Wine & Spirits - Orlando
Saturday, September 15 7-10pm
$125 per person
For tickets, please call 407.582.3150

Southern California


"Rioja Gold Medal Wine Flight" at the Fairplex Wine Pavilion - LA County Fair
Throughout September
Wine Classes on September 29

"Summer Taste" with Learn About Wine for Charity - Santa Monica Place
Wednesday, September 12 7-9pm;
Purchase Tickets

View all our upcoming events around the country.

header Rioja Across the U.S.

Rajat Parr, Mina Group's Wine Director Interview with Rajat Parr, Michael Mina Restaurants
We recently spoke with The Grand Award-winning sommelier Rajat Parr, Mina Group's Wine Director, about wine education, trends and Riojas at his restaurants. Read the interview here!

Rioja in New Hampshire
Residents and visitors of New Hampshire can enjoy Rioja specials throughout the month of September...lucky them! There will be Rioja in-store tastings around the state, a sweepstakes to win dinner for two or a Rioja wine gift basket, and excellent prices on all Rioja wines at the NH Liquor & Wine Outlet stores. For all of you New Englanders, check out our event calendar to find a NH tasting happening near you. Also, on September 29, there will be a special interactive guided tasting of Rioja wines that shares a sommelier's secrets for pairing wine and food, at Brazo in Portsmouth with wine author Marnie Old. Cheers!

Say Hello to Harvest Season with Rioja at Varietal
Join Vibrant Rioja at Varietal Fine Wines in Manhasset, NY for a series of small bites & wine tastings highlighting Rioja's superb pairability and food friendliness. Tastings are September 15, September 22, September 29 and October 6. All tastings are 2-6pm and offer complimentary admission. Click here for details.

header Recipe of the Month

Grilled Skirt Steak Grilled Skirt Steak
Skirt steak is a great choice for entertaining because it is one of the beefiest, most flavorful cuts of meat and usually quite affordable. Perfect for a September cookout, paired with a red Rioja! Enjoy the recipe here.

header Last Sip

Wine Buckets Hmmmm, wonder what to do with your wine corks? You'd be amazed at some of the cool projects that we found using corks…from bathmats to key chains to place card holders. Check out this HGTV blog of cork craft ideas!

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