AT A GLANCE:
Position: No 3 & The Best Vineyard in Europe
Name of wine estate: R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, S.A.
Wine region: Rioja
Standout points: Charming 19th-century winery complex; ‘time-capsule’ sense of winemaking tradition and history
Winemaker: Maria José López de Heredia
Wine style: Long-aged white and red Rioja
Enchantment in Rioja
In the wine world, there is an enormous amount of marketing fluff about ‘centuries-old family winemaking tradition’, but here at López de Heredia in Haro – the cradle of Rioja wine – you feel it viscerally. What strikes you when you visit this utterly charming winery and speak to the people who work there is that, although huge, it has the feel of a family business. What also strikes you is how patiently the work of crafting these wines is carried out. Vina Tondonia Riojas are renowned for the length of maturation time they have before release – the current release Tondonia Reserva red, for example, is from the 2006 vintage.
Keeper of tradition
López de Heredia is currently under the stewardship of the always-charming, loquacious Maria José López de Heredia, who became general manager of her family’s company in 2000. Maria José proudly maintains the traditional vine and winemaking methods of her predecessors and makes wines with a personality that has not changed in more than 140 years.
A warm Riojan welcome
Tourists are made very welcome and tours are available, preferably by appointment. Visiting the extensive barrel cellars – home to a mind-boggling 13,000 oak barrels – and on-site cooperage, one gets the feeling of going back in time. This is a place where traditions really have been maintained since the business’s foundation. Tastings in the charming tasting room come with cheese and charcuterie, while a terrace outside the winery is available for a leisurely pre- or post-tour glass of wine.
Next stop: Haro
If you choose your time wisely you may get to visit the winey during the Haro Station Wine Experience festival. Launched in 2015, this popular event sees thousands of wine tourists from across the world stroll through the district and visit the town’s wineries – CVNE, Bodegas Gómez Cruzado, La Rioja Alta, Viña Pomal, Bodegas Bilbaínas, Bodegas Muga and Bodegas RODA – each of which offers a selection of wines with gourmet food pairings.