I’ve always (always) wanted to visit a wine region during harvest. I had romantic ideas of learning Spanish while picking grapes, stopping for frequent wine breaks and feasting at the end of the day. The weather would be sunny, yet cool and all the other pickers would be gorgeous charming bachelors. When the email came through asking if I wanted to visit Campo Viejo in Rioja for wine harvest, I couldn’t type my passport number fast enough.
My Rioja wine harvest experience in Campo Viejo wasn’t that far from what I had imagined. It was hotter, (despite storms forecast) and I didn’t walk away speaking fluent español, but we did drink wine in the vines, dine under the stars and get friendly with the locals in Logroño on a tapas trail. If you haven’t heard of the Campo Viejo brand before, they’re Rioja experts with over sixty years experience making delicious Tempranillo, among other grape varieties. You’ll recognise their colourful artwork on the bottles and may have even seen one of their local events from tastings to tapas trails in your home city. While they’re experts in their field (it’s the leading brand in Rioja and top seller worldwide in this category), they give the impression of not taking themselves too seriously and know how to have fun. Have you ever noticed the mural on Drury Buildings in Dublin? It’s in collaboration with Campo Viejo – see how it matches the art installation on the vineyard behind me in the second photo below?
Back in 2001, when sustainability absolutely was not even part of my vocabulary, Campo Viejo built their new winery partly underground in Rioja. It would become the first certified carbon neutral winery in Spain. 18 years later and it still feels very modern, the sheer scale of the operation and the vast interior of the winery feel just as impressive visiting five years after I first laid eyes on it. You can take a tour and do a tasting for as little as €12
The Rioja wine harvest happens around September and depends on a few factors, like grape variety and how the weather has been during the summer and in the lead up to harvest. We donned our wellies and got stuck in harvesting white tempranillo from the experimental vineyards. It’s back-breaking work, even for just twenty minutes, so kudos to the people who do this for hours on end during harvest.
I got to taste the new Campo Viejo Rosé over a long and lazy lunch in the vineyard. The strawberry aromas jump out of the glass, but it’s crisp and dry to taste with lovely floral flavours. Equally delicious with cheese, chorizo, salads or salmon.
We were lucky enough to raise a glass to harvest 2019 with the winemaking team from Campo Viejo over a beautiful dinner that really emphasised the fun-loving spirit of the brand. Now I just need to be patient and wait until the fruits of our labour to land on the shelves!
By the way, Logroño itself is well worth a visit – tiny streets lined with tapas bars, people drinking wine late into the evening out on the square, gorgeous cafés to sit and people watch from. Fly to Bilbao and drive about an hour and forty minutes. We stayed in the beautiful Eurostars Fuerte Ruavieja Hotel, a perfect place to base yourself, within walking distance of bars, shops and restaurants and fifteen minutes drive from the Campo Viejo vineyards and winery.
Want to learn more about wine? Read my cheat sheet here!
This post was sponsored by Campo Viejo. All opinions are, as always, my own. Drink responsibly.