On a bright early summer day, as our jet lagged bodies were drug out of bed to meet Rioja sun, we were off on our first visit of the trip, to Bodegas Castillo de Sajazarra.
This beautiful castle was purchased in the 1960s and restored by the Libano family as their family home. Investigating the property, they realized that there were remnants of wine productoin facilities, and they set out on an adventure to impart their own stamp on a new, modern winery.
The 700 year old original fortress was situated on the border of the Moorish Muslim territory and the northern European Christians, which – as you can imagine could be quite a contested region during the crusades.
Enter the current owner and his family, who are Basque. Again, a hotly disputed territory, they moved to the now tranquil region of Rioja Alta to escape persecution from the separatist movement in Basque country.
After restoring the wine making facilities to modern standards, the first vintage was produced in 1973 from the the rich chalky soils of the region. Here, the bold wines of Rioja are front and center, along with the lesser known, delicate and delicious whites. Today, 250,000 bottles are produced, and aged an average of 3 to 4 years.
While the castle isn’t open to the public, I highly suggest making the time and arrangements to view this piece of history in Rioja! You wont be sorry, and you might get lost in the dungeon!