Best Wine Tasting in Bilbao

The best wine tastings around the world are those that know how to combine a fun and touristic experience with the enjoyment of a good glass. In this post I will tell you about the ones available in the outskirts of Bilbao.

Keyvis Montilva

Keyvis Montilva

13 min read

Best Wine Tasting in Bilbao

Wine Tasting | javierAlamo

The north of the Basque Country is not a wine-growing region par excellence, which is logical knowing that it is an Atlantic area with a climate that is too temperate for it. However, the south of this autonomous region together with La Rioja and part of Navarra make up the area with the best vineyards in Spain. Therefore, one of the best things to do in Bilbao is to have an excursion to the south of Euskadi to enjoy a good wine tasting in an appropriate place for it.

I invite you to read on so you can get a clear and concise idea about the operation of the best wine tastings in the surroundings of Bilbao. Understanding the conditions of the transfer, the prices of the experience, the duration of the trip, the type of things you will do and the number of participants that usually accompany you on this type of wine tasting with guided tours to La Rioja and the south of the Basque Country.

1. A private wine tour to La Rioja from Bilbao

In La Rioja| ©Mario & Debbie
In La Rioja| ©Mario & Debbie

The first alternative you have at your disposal if you are looking to enjoy an excellent wine tasting in the vicinity of Bilbao is to participate in a private wine tour that is focused on the wine region of La Rioja. The first thing you should know about this type of excursion is that you will be picked up at the door of your hotel, as long as it is located in the center of Bilbao. If this is not the case, a meeting point is designated at the Port of Bilbao.

Then the tour begins in a private, air-conditioned vehicle in which only your group of companions will travel with the driver and a guide who can also be bilingual if desired. Eventually, you will arrive at the wine tasting at the first winery of the tour located in a subway construction in a village in the Ebro Valley in the wine heart of La Rioja.

The next place would be a winery in the village of Samaniego in the extreme south of the Basque Country. This part of the tour is usually highlighted as it is a more familiar vineyard. You will then pass through the mythical town of Laguardia to enjoy lunch at a local pintxo restaurant as well as stroll the streets of this beautiful medieval town.

Eventually, you will arrive at the Marqués de Riscal Winery for a stroll through their vineyards and a final tasting. This site stands out for the beauty of the hotel that bears the same name and features facilities designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry. Keep in mind that this tour is available for wheelchair users as well as children, as long as they are accompanied by their parents at all times.

Details of interest

  • Price: the approximate price of an excursion like this one, which includes 9 wine tastings in 3 different wineries, is usually around 290 euros. Which is logical, knowing that it is a private tour that will only be composed of your companions and therefore there is usually a minimum quota of participants.
  • Duration: this type of tastings with sightseeing tours usually last about 8 or 9 hours on average.
  • Means of transport: the most usual is a minibus, taking into account that it is a tourist tour for a maximum of 10 or 15 people.
  • Advantages of this option: it is not common for an excursion to offer more than one wine tasting in its itinerary and in this case you will enjoy three. You can return to Bilbao with a broader knowledge of the surrounding wine industry as well as the beauty of the region.
  • Disadvantages of this option: 290 euros per person is not exactly very economical and this can be a limitation for a lot of people who are traveling to Bilbao on a tight budget.

Essential Rioja private wine tour from Bilbao

2. Gastronomic tour with wine tastings

Wine Tasting| ©Andrea Gori
Wine Tasting| ©Andrea Gori

There are several gastronomic tours that focus on exploring the most interesting and authentic aspects of Basque food and the culinary scene that defines Bilbao. Most of them revolve around pintxos and basically these are a Basque version of the Spanish tapas found in bars, taverns and restaurants throughout the country.

On the other hand, high-end gastronomic tours that also include a wine tasting at most of the restaurants and culinary establishments visited are an excellent alternative if you want to enjoy the wine scene that defines the southern Basque Country without having to leave Bilbao on an excursion to La Rioja and its famous vineyards and wineries.

Keep in mind that this type of itinerary is basically about going from bar to bar and restaurant to restaurant to try the pintxos or the most iconic and representative dish of the gastronomic proposal of that establishment. At the same time, the wine tasting is given evenly, and in each place you will enjoy a few glasses of several locally produced wines that will allow you to enjoy the same product that you will have at your disposal in a trip to the wineries or vineyards of Vitoria or La Rioja.

In this case it is not usual that there is an age restriction since the tasting is still optional accompaniment to the meal and therefore can be a family plan to enjoy in a different way the culinary world of Bilbao. In addition, it is a fully guided tour that in most cases does not have more than 10 participants.

Details of interest

  • Price: a wine and gastronomic tour of Bilbao usually costs about 100 euros per person approximately. It may seem expensive, but you have to evaluate the fact that on average you usually visit about 6 or 8 places in the same night.
  • Duration: they usually last about 3 hours and this is more than enough for participants to tour the city hearing about the stories of its culinary past while learning how to order like a real Basque in the most iconic establishments of this city.
  • Means of transportation: in this case no means of transportation will be necessary, as there is always a central meeting point in the historic center of Bilbao. Which means that getting to that place is already something that is up to you and you can choose between the metro, the streetcar, buses or a cab to get to your destination in the most comfortable and convenient way for you.
  • Advantages of this option: not having to leave Bilbao is already a great advantage for many people who have no interest in leaving the city, even if it is only for a couple of hours. The fact that they are gastronomic and wine tours after sunset also make it a convenient activity, as it leaves the whole day free to do other tourist activities in the city.
  • Disadvantages of this option: although wine is one of the great features of an itinerary like this, it is true that in fact at each of the stops you will also have the option of betting on the consumption of locally produced craft beers or ciders, another typical element among the drinks of the Basque Country.

High level gastronomic tour of Bilbao

3. A Vitoria tour with a tasting in the local wine region

Tasting in Vitoria| ©Don Dowell
Tasting in Vitoria| ©Don Dowell

To enjoy a good wine tasting in the surroundings of Bilbao it is not necessary to cross the borders between the Basque Country and La Rioja. In fact, the wine region that has given worldwide fame to this corner of Spain extends between both territories and even takes some kilometers from Navarra. That is why on an excursion like this one you usually travel from Bilbao to Vitoria to enjoy tastings in the local wineries as well as in other nearby towns like Laguardia or Haro.

Keep in mind that on this itinerary if you share the trip with other people outside your reservation. Although this is not a major inconvenience, as the bus is large enough for everyone to travel comfortably and the number of participants almost never exceeds 40 people. Pick up is usually included if you are staying in a very specific list of hotels and if this is not the case then a meeting point is designated in an accessible square in the center of Bilbao.

The winery visit and wine tasting usually takes place in Laguardia, either at the Bodega El Fabulista or at another local wine company. In Laguardia also usually happens the lunch that is usually left to the choice of each traveler, while you have 2 hours to walk the cobblestone streets of this medieval town. Which year after year usually enters the ranking of the most beautiful towns in Spain.

In this case it is also necessary that there is a minimum number of participants for the wine tasting can be given and therefore it is possible that it is canceled and rescheduled. However, this is not a common occurrence. Keep in mind that the bus has child seats available for its passengers. The experience is guided and therefore you will always have a specialist in the history of the region by your side, even in the wine tasting at the winery in Laguardia.

Details of interest

  • Price: an excursion like this one that only includes one or two wine tastings in the same winery is cheaper than the previous alternative. Rates are usually around 70 or 80 euros per adult, while children between 12 and 2 years of age pay around 40 euros. Clearly, wine tasting is not available for minors.
  • Duration: this trip usually lasts about 8 hours from the departure in the center of Bilbao to its eventual return.
  • Means of transportation: as this is an excursion that can include up to 35 people on the same trip it can be assumed that a relatively large bus will always be needed for the logistics of this guided tour of the southern Basque wine region.
  • Advantages of this option: this option is much more economical than a private wine tasting and at the same time offers you the touristic tour of the area. So basically it is the same benefits only that you will visit fewer wineries, but you will also be paying less euros.
  • Disadvantages of this option: there are those who are looking to enjoy more than two wine tastings in the tour and for them it may seem insufficient an itinerary like this. However, it is also worth considering the fact that two tastings in a town like Laguardia and the possibility of touring Vitoria is also a beneficial situation.

Vitoria and the Rioja wine region

4. Combined excursion of La Rioja and Vitoria on a wine tour with winery visit

Wine tasting tour| ©Fresco Tours
Wine tasting tour| ©Fresco Tours

As the idea of a good trip for many people is to make the most of the time to visit as many places as possible in the same opportunity, then there are wine tasting tours that combine Vitoria with the wineries of the Autonomous Community of La Rioja in the same itinerary. Basically, it is a planned excursion that starts in the capital of Euskadi, Vitoria, and then goes to Laguardia to the first winery of the tour.

It is followed by a tour of the wine fields that are already located in the Autonomous Region of La Rioja. This will allow you to see up close what the site looks like where the grapes are extracted that will be used for the creation of this famous alcoholic beverage. There is a gourmet tasting at some of the stops, either in a village of La Rioja or in the winery of Laguardia.

All this tour is given in a minibus which means that it is a relatively private experience. Although in reality it is almost certain that you will share the trip with other people if your group is not large enough to fill the vehicle. You also have the accompaniment of a local guide and there may be a pick-up from your hotel if it is within the list of accommodations on the minibus route.

Free time for lunch may be allocated in Laguardia or also in the city of Vitoria. It all depends on which is the first stop on the itinerary. The wine tasting usually lasts about an hour and the most usual is to choose a typical local winery that is quite faithful to the more traditional wine culture of the region.

Details of interest

  • Price: the price of this tour is quite similar to the previous alternative and therefore the rates are also around 70 euros for adults and 40 euros for children under 12 years old.
  • Duration: a package tour with these characteristics also usually lasts about 8 hours from the departure in the center of Bilbao to the return to the same point of the city.
  • Means of transport: minibuses are used and this implies that it is a more intimate vehicle that should not exceed 15 or 20 passengers.
  • Advantages of this option: the advantage of this alternative is that you get to cross the borders to the Autonomous Region of La Rioja and this can be convenient if you want to claim that you have known two Spanish communities in a single trip to Bilbao.
  • Disadvantages of this option: the duration of 8 hours in a tourist itinerary to enjoy a good wine tasting may be too much for someone who would prefer to get to Vitoria and its surroundings on their own to have as many drinks as they can get in the wine bars of the city.

La Rioja and Vitoria wine tour with winery visit

How to book the best wine tastings in Bilbao and surroundings?

Book Online| ©Porapak Apichodilok
Book Online| ©Porapak Apichodilok

You have different means available to book this kind of wine tasting based excursions in and around Bilbao. However, the best of all will always be online.

Under this way of acquiring your service you have the possibility to cancel your purchase for free. You can also book the schedule you want, select the date of your interest and even check the availability and the price difference according to different times of the year.

On the other hand, you have the possibility of booking these wine tastings through local tourist agencies within the same city of Bilbao. The problem with this situation is that there is no guarantee that you will get the wine tasting of your interest for the time you have available for it. Just as you have no way of guaranteeing that you are not paying for a service that is more expensive than it is really worth.

In fact, online booking of these types of tourist activities is something that applies to most tours that take you to the best towns outside of Bilbao. It is also a good way to book tours within the same city and other family or adult entertainment activities in the Basque Coast region.

Duration of wine tastings in Bilbao and surroundings

Watch| ©Sonja Langford
Watch| ©Sonja Langford

On average all wine tastings usually last between one hour and two hours in total. However, these excursions that take you to the wineries or vineyards where these events are held are a much longer activity. So in order to enjoy one or two wine tastings in the wine region outside Bilbao you will have to invest between six to eight hours in total.

Now, appreciate the fact that these excursions usually start in the early morning hours so that the tasting can be held in the early afternoon. This means that by early evening you will be back at your hotel to enjoy the best night activities in Bilbao.

Tips for a wine tasting in the surroundings of Bilbao

Excursion around Bilbao| ©Bigeddie100
Excursion around Bilbao| ©Bigeddie100

The first tip I can give you regarding a wine tasting around Bilbao is to keep in mind that these activities are not intended for excessive alcohol consumption. Instead, they are a plan to enjoy the wine culture as well as an excellent quality product. If you start your trip with this philosophy in mind, you will be able to enjoy it in a better way.

The second recommendation I can make is to choose your clothes appropriately. The truth is that while touring the vineyards you will be under the sun and this could generate a sunstroke if you do not apply sunscreen and do not wear appropriate clothing. In fact, a trip to the vineyards in the south of the Basque Country is one of the best things to do in Bilbao and its surroundings during the summer.

You should also keep in mind that the gastronomic tastings are an additional element that in many occasions is considered as something dispensable and unnecessary by the wineries. Therefore, I advise you to go for a high-level gastronomic tour in Bilbao if you really want to enjoy the culinary world of this Spanish region.

Book your high-level gastronomic tour in Bilbao

Why is it advisable to participate in a wine tasting in Bilbao and its surroundings?

Wine barrels| ©Francisco Aragão
Wine barrels| ©Francisco Aragão

Although Bilbao is not a wine city, its proximity to La Rioja makes it an interesting destination for lovers of good quality wine. In fact, La Rioja as a wine region has the first Spanish appellation of origin in history. That means that if you really feel like enjoying a wine tasting it is worth the hours of travel to get to the south of the Basque Country and enjoy one of the most famous wine producing regions in the world.

As you can imagine, an excursion like this, focused on a wine tasting in La Rioja or in the city of Victoria, is one of the best day trips from Bilbao. At the same time, being in Bilbao you will realize that there are other nearby towns that are worth visiting if you have enough time to do so. For this reason guided tours are a good alternative if you do not have a car to reach these important tourist places. Transfers from Bilbao to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe are an excellent example of this.