Wine Tour to Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro and Cigales
5th-9th June 2024
18th-22nd September 2024
5 days/4 nights based in Valladolid, £1,399pp, £125 single supplement
Price excludes flights/Early booking discount available
- Visits to wineries in the key wine regions of Castilla y Leon: Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro and Cigales.
- Visit top estates, tasting award winning wines.
- Stay in the historic city of Valladolid, famed for its Romanesque architecture and fabulous gastronomy.
- Enjoy the stunning scenery of the region.
- At least six visits over three days.
- Comprehensive tastings at every visit, and four fabulous tasting lunches or dinners
- Tour dates
- Outline Itinerary
- Key Tour Information
- Flight Transfers
- How to book this tour
- More about my Wine Tour to Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro
- More about Tim Syrad Wine Tours
- Get in touch
5th-9th June 2024 – places available
18th-22nd September 2024 – places available
Our tour commences at our Meeting Point at Madrid Airport (see Flight Transfers below). We will board our coach for the two hour drive to Valladolid, where we will settle into our 4 star hotel. In the evening we will stroll out to a local restaurant where we will enjoy a first night dinner that introduces the wines we will be tasting over the next three days, and the incredibly high quality cuisine of the region.
Day 2 – Rueda and Toro
Rueda is famed for its aromatic white wines made from the Verdejo variety. This variety, almost abandoned a few years ago, is capable of making a variety of styles, from fruit driven unoaked youthful wines through to aged wines with significant oak influence. Bodegas Menade celebrate their environmental approach, with insect Airbnbs, and mobile mini forests that allow deployment of vine friendly bugs to different parts of the estate to encourage a more harmonious balance. Their amazing herb garden provides infusions for the soil, while donkeys, chickens and geese not only provide fertility for the soil but entertainment for visitors!
We will travel on to Toro, home to powerful red wines made from Tempranillo. Fariña Bodega produces not only reds, but also white wines and has an amazing collection of artwork –young artists are invited to submit creations for their Primera wine label. Accompanying our tasting of whites, rosés and of course red wines, we will enjoy a rustic lunch finished off with selection of the acclaimed ‘nuns’ buns’ – cakes made by the local convent.
Evening at leisure in Valladolid.
Day 3 – Ribera del Duero
Home to Spain’s first ‘first growth’, Vega Sicilia, in the last forty years Ribera del Duero has enjoyed a stellar rise to fame. Its Tempranillo based reds combine great power with wonderful evolution, and a focus on the impact of oak on wine flavour rather than maturation has set the region aside from Rioja for many years (though Rioja is catching on and up).
Our visits will include Valduero, which I have been taking groups to since 2012. This will be an experience for all our senses, and if previous tours are anything to go by, some of us may leave with a share in a barrique (though we may need to collect our bottles ourselves if current Brexit tangles continue to impact on personal wine shipments between the EU and UK). A fabulous meal will accompany our exploration of their entire range (including some superb white wines, made from the Albillo grape variety).
Evening at leisure in Valladolid
Day 4 – Cigales
The least known of the regions, only a few minutes’ drive from Valladolid. Historically, this area used to be a big wine production area but a succession of wars, economic depressions, phylloxera, and a movement of labour away from the villages over the past 150 years reduced wine production. However, it has a reputation for some of the best rosado wines in Spain. Red and white wines are also made.
Our visits will be to Finca Museum, with their spectacular winery overlooking vast tracts of vineyard, and Viña Concejo, a relatively new kid on the block, with an amazing old castle where we will have tapas with our tasting.
Our final night dinner will be a top local restaurant in Valladolid.
Following a morning at leisure in Valladolid we will depart by coach for Madrid Airport (See Flight Transfers below).
Note: the Itinerary may be changed at Tim Syrad Wine Tours discretion so as to facilitate the smooth running of the tour and to accommodate great opportunities for visits or tastings that may become available.
Key Tour Information
* The Key Tour Information specifies what you should expect from the tour, no matter how far ahead you book.
As additional information is published on the website, it will be advised to clients who have reserved a place. The daily itinerary will be finalised in the weeks leading up to the Start Date.
- £1,399 per person based on 2 people sharing a double/twin room.
- £125 supplement for single occupancy of a double room,
- £100 discount for bookings made before 1st January 2024, and paid for 12 weeks before departure.
- Transport from the Meeting Point at Madrid Airport to the hotel on Day 1, and to the Departure Point at Madrid Airport on Day 5.
- 5 days (including arrival and departure days)/4 nights bed and breakfast in good quality 4 star hotel in Valladolid.
- Coach for all activities in the itinerary.
- Three full days of visits and tastings.
- Six visits/tastings, including wineries in Ribera del Duero, Toro, Rueda and Cigales, tasting the key grape varieties and styles of the region.
- Four lunches/dinners with local wines.
- All local taxes and service charges.
- The services of Tim Syrad as your Wine Tour Manager and Wine Guide.
It is a condition of my accepting a booking that you will take out appropriate travel insurance – please see our Terms and Conditions Section 8.
Terms and Conditions are available here or on request.
Please note flights are not included in the price. Many of my clients prefer to extend their holiday before or after my tours, so I let people make their own flight arrangements.
* End of Key Tour Information
Our Meeting and Departure Point is Madrid Airport. I will arrange transfers to coincide with the following flights.
Tour 1 – June 2024
Outbound (Wednesday 5th June 2024)
British Airways from London Heathrow to Madrid. Flight BA7055 departs LHR 1055 arrives MAD 1420.
Return (Sunday 9th June 2024)
British Airways from Madrid to London Heathrow. Flight BA7060 departs MAD 1455 arrives LHR 1620.
Tour 2 – September 2024 – flight transfers to be advised when BA publishes its schedule
Please contact me if you would like to discuss travel options, for example flying to or from a different airport or making the journey by rail or driving. I cannot arrange travel for you, but I can advise on what might work best.
How to book this tour
Please contact me by phone or email, or use the enquiry form on the Contact page on the website to check availability. When I confirm a place is available, please complete the booking form to reserve your place.
Once I have confirmed a tour is proceeding I advise clients to arrange flights and confirm travel arrangements to me. Please do not arrange flights before I have confirmed your place and that the tour is proceeding.
Full payment must be made 12 weeks before the tour starts, invoices will be sent out 14 weeks before the tour starts. Two weeks before the tour starts you will need to provide your insurance details (name of insurer, policy number, 24 hour emergency telephone numbers), outbound/inbound travel arrangements and any dietary requirements.
More about my Wine Tour to Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro
Where we are staying
Our base is Valladolid. This spectacular historic city, capital of Castilla y León, is home to many of Spain’s top museums, buildings and surrounded by natural wonders . As the seat of royalty for many years before Madrid became Spain’s capital, the wine regions lining the banks of the Duero River nearby enjoyed ready markets and developed prestigious reputations – as the extensive cellars that underpin many local towns such as Aranda de Duero and Cigales attest. Expect warm sunny days and evenings, great to stroll out to enjoy the vibrant bar life and view the fine architecture – its Plaza Mayor was one of the first to be created in Spain.
What we will be eating
Gastronomy will be a highlight of our tour. The local speciality is lechazo, suckling baby lamb, but there is a wonderful selection of local vegetables, cheeses and fish is brought in daily from the coast. We will seek out fine dining with both traditional and modern/international approaches, and can be certain to enjoy the superb wines of the region, and often from the wineries we have visited.
And of course there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy tapas as we explore Valladolid on our free evenings.
Grape varieties we will encounter
Include, of course Tempranillo. The most widely planted variety in Spain, despite its naturally short ripening period. In the high altitudes of Castilla y Léon ripening slows down, allowing greater development of colour and flavour, retention of acidity and more elegant tannins. This means oak barrels are used more to impart flavour than to soften robust youthful wines, so the wines have a very different character to traditional Riojas. The long history of the variety in the region is demonstrated by the local names it has acquired – Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Tinta del País in Cigales and Ribera and of course the eponymous Tinta del Toro.
Garnacha and Garnacha Gris are mainly used in the regions’ rosé wines. Slower to ripen, and often planted as bush vines, they thrive in the intense sunshine and heat, and are increasingly valued for the complexity they add to blends.
Verdejo is the indigenous aromatic white grape variety that put Rueda on the map. Its herbaceous, nutty aromas and good acidity make it incredibly versatile, producing youthful fresh wines, those that benefit from oak influence and cellaring and high quality sparkling wines. As Rueda has evolved so has its international ambitions, which explains why Sauvignon Blanc has become more widely planted.
Albillo is the only white grape permitted in Ribera del Duero Blanco wines. It has complex ripe flavours and a rich mouthfeel, and can be found in blends (of reds and rosés as well as whites) across the region. It needs the diurnal variation of the region to retain acidity, hence it is not widely found elsewhere in Spain other than Galicia.
Viura (the main white variety of Rioja), is fairly widely grown but virtually only used in blends, whereas Palomino (the grape of Jerez) is still used to make oxidatively aged Rueda Dorada, and biologically aged Rueda Palido. Malvasia is one of the oldest varieties recorded. It can be encountered virtually anywhere in Iberia and around the Mediterranean, and has a traditional role adding complexity and softening acidity in blends.
Wine regions we are visiting
Castilla y Léon’s wine growing areas are on the high plateau between the Cantabrian mountain ranges to the north and the Sistema Central to the south. Its rivers are fed by snow on these mountains, and it does receive some rainfall, but its major climatic characteristic is of intense sunshine, and hot dry summers. Soils are poor, and there was significant rural emigration, so many vineyards were left untended for decades, and offer wonderful opportunities to be reclaimed and their old, low yielding vines coaxed into producing very high quality grapes.
Rueda is an unusual Spanish DO, in that it is most famous for its white wines. On the banks of the Duero, between Ribera and Toro, stony alluvial soils with high limestone content favour white grapes, encouraging slow ripening, high acidity and great aromatic potential. However, for decades after phylloxera ravaged vineyards, the region was known for an oxidative style of wine made from Palomino Fino called ‘generoso’ – a kind of poor man’s sherry. The native Verdejo variety did not take kindly to such winemaking, and luckily in the 1970s the Riojan titan Marqués de Riscal came looking for a source of fresh white wine with good acidity and high quality. Investment in modern winemaking equipment such as stainless steel and temperature control, and a route to market, revealed the quality Verdejo is capable of, though Rueda wines can also be made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. High quality sparkling wines are also made, and we may taste some Orujo, local brandy made from grape pomace.
Toro is the most westerly region we visit, only 40 miles from the border with Portugal where the Duero becomes the Douro. Conditions are very dry, but temperatures are less extreme than further inland, and the local Tempranillo variant ‘Tinto de Toro’ is known for its powerful wines, particularly those made from old bush vines. Investment has flowed into the region from its neighbours and further afield, and modern vinification approaches have allowed wines of great quality to be made, and Toro is one of the most exciting regions in Spain.
Ribera del Duero is furthest inland, and highest in altitude, nearly 1,000m. The hot dry summers ensure grapes ripen fully, but chilly nights ensure vines rest, ripening is slow, and full phenolic ripeness of tannins and flavours is achieved. A variety of soil types have created different terroirs, and old vineyards still exist that ensure wines are not just powerful but also have wonderful complexity and elegance.
While Ribera wines were historically famous, by the mid twentieth century it was in Rioja’s shadow, and while the Vega Sicilia winery was highly regarded, particularly for its blending of Tempranillo with Bordeaux varieties, it was not until the 1980s that the region began to recover its prestige. Local families such as the Alvarez and the Fernández invested in bringing modern wine making techniques, and winemakers of internation reputations such as Peter Sisseck arrived. Vega Sicilia is now the most widely searched Tempranillo wine on wine-searcher.com, and Ribera wines generally compete with top Riojas for the most prestigious positions on wine lists.
However, white wines should not be forgotten and we will taste some superb examples.
Like its neighbours, Cigales, to the north of Valladolid, has a harsh climate reflecting its high altitude, intense daytime heat in the summer and low rainfall. Together with poor stony soils, this is the perfect recipe for high quality wines – many grown organically. Cigales was first awarded a DO in 1991 for rosado and red wines, made from principally from Tempranillo (known in the region as Tinta del País), and Garnacha. Rosé is made by vinifying red and white grapes together, and Verdejo, Albillo and Viura are also principal varieties. More recently French varieties were permitted in blends, and are becoming more widely grown.
Because of the cool underground cellars in which wines are made and matured, Cigales rosés have had a reputation for freshness that long precedes the introduction of modern stainless steel fermentation vessels and temperature control systems. Despite relatively little skin contact the wines still have beautiful colour. Dry and sweet rosés are made, and unlike many other quality rosés across Spain, maturation in oak is limited.
More about Tim Syrad Wine Tours
Since 1997 I have escorted over 125 groups of people on wine tours, visiting more than 30 wine regions in Europe and the New World. My clients keep coming back year after year because in addition to tastings and visits we really do meet the people who make the wine and tend the vines.
I pride myself in offering tours that are informative, imaginative and enjoyable. I keep group sizes manageable so that we spend our time appreciating our visits, not getting on and off the bus or queuing for the loos! I personally escort all of my tours, and I ensure as much as possible of the money my clients pay is spent on great food and wine, and good hotels. I believe you can combine appreciating fabulous wine with relaxation and laughter, which is why so many of my clients come on tour with me every year. More than 70 people have come on at least 10 of my tours.
There is a friendly and welcoming atmosphere on every tour from the start, and I am proud that many friendships have been made between the people who come on tour with me.