ITTN’s Jack Goddard was fortunate enough to be invited to Toro and Aribes del Duero by the Spanish Tourist Board. Check out how it progresses in Part Two of this series.
When we arrived at Arribes del Duero, the rustic look of the area took me back. It was as old and traditional as you can get. Humble and quaint little houses overlooking the beautiful Spanish countryside as far as the eye can see.
When we arrived we wandered the winding streets of the old town. This place is home to over 1000 wine cellars and we were allowed to explore a handful of them as our guide explained the history of the Arribes del Duero.
Although some wine cellars have been modernized, many have been kept in their original form dating back decades. I was amazed to see how they were able to keep up with modern basements without the same equipment.
One of the vineyards we visited was El Hato y el Garabato. This was by far the highlight of the trip for me. Small family run winery. Making a set number of bottles each year allows them to work directly at every stage of the process, from the grapes on the vine to the cork on the bottle. This is artisanal production at its finest. The owners of the generosity received me with such warmth and generosity, I will never forget it. They are passionate about what they do and welcome visitors with open arms.
We were fortunate enough to receive an invitation to their house where the wine is made. Meeting the couple’s daughters and even their amazing dog was a lovely personal experience.
Our stay for the night was Hotel Doña Urraca, a lovely little hotel located in the old town.
the third day
Our third day of the trip started with a visit to Douro Canyon and we got a guided bird watching tour of the area. The tour provided us with some amazing views of the Douro River and the last kilometers of the Agueda River. During the tour, we were able to catch some glimpses of some of the beautiful wildlife that call the area home.
In the second part of our activities day, we were brought to the Mermeladería “Oh Saúco”. These are local producers who respect and support sustainability using ecological and local raw materials. In the gastronomic art workshop, we learned the process of making jam, applying it to sweet and savory recipes, and then enjoyed our efforts. It was a unique experience that I really enjoyed.
After we finished tasting the jam, we were brought to our accommodations for the night. This was really something special. We were staying in the beautiful Hacienda Zurita National Reserve. The hotel consists of ten magnificent rooms surrounded by its own vineyards in the heart of a natural park.
This hotel truly embodies the feeling of luxury. The theme of delicious authentic Spanish cuisine continued for lunch.
To wrap up our fun day, the group enjoyed a boat trip at Douro Canyon. This is a nice cruise on the Douro that allowed us to enjoy all the natural beauty of Arribes del Duero Natural Park from the river. As you cruise through the riverbanks, the guide shares the history, landscape, and features of the national park.
the fourth day
On the last day of our trip, we were all going to be happy. We had time for another fun activity before leaving for Madrid to catch our flight.
We have been brought to another new experience for me. We took a crash course in crockery with Numa Ceramica. During the semester we encourage you to get creative with your design and you are provided with some unique tools to design your craft such as leaves, flowers and seashells. This was another experience I wouldn’t have chosen but I really enjoyed.
The four-day trip to Toro and Arribes del Duero showed regions that were bursting with layers with potential and would be there with any wine region. These destinations are authentic to the local culture, are far removed from commerce and people welcome visitors with open arms. It’s a must-do whether a wine connoisseur or not.
You can dip your toe in tastings at the local vineyards, but the local produce and crafts will also appeal to those looking to explore and try something new off the beaten track.
I would recommend visiting any of the wine ways to anyone and hope to be back soon. Special thanks to the Spanish Tourist Board once again for a wonderful trip.
Jack Goddard reported on a 3 night wine tasting trip to Toro in October 2021 with Tourism Spain flying direct from Dublin to Madrid with Ryanair and Iberia.
For more information, contact your local travel agency.
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