López de Heredia winery

Nestled in the heart of La Rioja region you can find the home of one of the most significant Rioja wine producers – López de Heredia.

This wine world-legend remains a traditional winery – or bodega – run by the same family that has made its excellent wines for the past 140 years or more. And you can pay a visit.

Especially known for their Tondonia Gran Reserva, their iconic red wine with a wax seal on the bottle, the nature and history of the Rioja region have nurtured López de Heredia’s craft.

The bodega is in Barrio de la Estación, now among the many other wineries in Haro, in the Rioja Alta region of Spain. But it was Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta who first realised the Rioja Alta soil, climate and location by the railway station at Haro were perfect. Then an enthusiastic student in winemaking, Don Rafael established the first bodega in what was to become a world-famous winemaking region.

He created the first Viña Tondonia in 1913-14 from a spectacularly-situated vineyard on the banks of the River Ebro. There have been many Tondonia Gran Reserva vintages, with the first bottled by Don Rafael himself as long ago as 1890.

Today it’s María José López de Heredia at the helm, the fourth generation to run the vineyard and just as keen to maintain its traditional methods.

“The traditional style” of López de Heredia

It is well-known that López de Heredia prefer to use their own passion and experience in crafting their wines, paying no notice to the latest trends or the opinions of wine critics.

However, it should be noted that in Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2018, their Rioja White Viña Gravonia Crianza 2008 was described as, “Rich and firm, this white shows complex flavors of dried apple, creamed pear, heather, white tea, coconut and vanilla. Juicy acidity and light tannins keep this focused, providing structure for the long haul. A lovely example of the traditional style.”

The bodega buildings that were built by Don Rafael are a joy to explore on López de Heredia’s fascinating wine tours. Hearing Don Rafael’s astounding story as you wander warrens of stone passageways and vaulted cellars lined with majestic oak barrels, you can almost picture the man himself striding through and admiring his handiwork.

A real highlight is the breathtaking El Calado Cellar, which was built in 1892. Once Don Rafael had established his business, he was able to see his grand designs become reality, and he hired a team of stonemasons. The result was an enormous winemaking cellar excavated out of rock, with its main gallery stretching 200 metres down the hillside towards the River Ebro.

The ‘frasca’ of Zaha Hadid in Viña Tondonia

It’s not all history at López de Heredia though – as well as cherishing the past, the winery embraces the new, too – and they even had world-famous architect Zaha Hadid design a modern bar annexe that stunningly resembles a wine decanter. So savour the glorious story of this remarkable winery, and then pull up a seat in cutting-edge architecture and drink it in.

Rioja in Style can organize your tour to López de Heredia Winery. Contact us and we’ll talk through what you want from your dream Rioja wine trip. Choose your amazing wine tour in Spain here.

Those in New York can whet their appetites before their trip to Rioja at Casa Mono in Manhattan, which stocks more than 20 different López de Heredia red and white wines.


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