The Basque country is synonymous to delicious food, amazing architecture and some of the finest beaches in natural settings. The region is famous for the beautiful coastal areas like San Sebastián, Zarautz and Getxo, as well as inland destinations such as Bilbao and Vitoria. Basque Country stands out from the Rest of Spain because of its distinctive cultural traditions, their own language and gastronomy. The city of San Sebastián is regarded as the European capital of culture. The city also hosts the famous San Sebastián International Film Festival in the Kursaal Auditorium. The Basque country has unique gastronomical traditions which creates a perfect pair with local wines.
Discover unique wine culture and traditions of Basque Country. The region where you will be able to dive and taste wines aged in a marine environment. Check out the full list of wine tastings & tours in the Basque country and start planning your wine holiday.
Emerging Fine Spanish Wines in the Basque Country
The Basque Country, an Autonomous Community in northern Spain. It sits on the extreme western end of Spain’s border with France. The region is bounded by the Bay of Biscay to the north and the autonomous communities of Navarra to the east, La Rioja to the south, and Cantabria to the west. The Basque people are proudly independent, having their own culture and unique language. In the last few decades, the Pais Vasco has become famous for its cuisine, its wine is still relatively unknown. Wine-making is nothing new to the Basques. Like many parts of Spain, vineyards in the Basque Country have been tended since the Ancient Roman times. It seems only appropriate that most of the wines produced in the region are light, fresh white wines. What else could be a better companion for traditional seafood dishes of Basque Gastronomy if not refreshing white wines?
Txakolina & The Basque High Pour
Basque Country wine region is the land of a zingy, zesty and slightly fizzy wine Txakolina. This bright, refreshing, tangy, slightly effervescent, dry, and very mineral wine is made primarily from local grapes called Hondarribia Zuri and Hondarribia Beltza.
Depending on the producer, you might also see other grapes blended in such as Chardonnay, riesling, Folle Blanche, and Petite manseng. Txakolina comes in both white and rosé styles and that’s fabulous news for summer sipping as rosé fever starts to rise.
There are three subregions that make Txakolina. Bizkaiko, made around the city of Bilbao, is fresh, briny, and zesty; Geteriako comes from the area around San Sebastian and is tangy and characteristically a little fizzy; the third and smallest is Arabako, made in the hills surrounding the small inland town of Amurrio.
One thing all Txakoli wines have in common is a fresh and light profile: they are relatively low in alcohol (typically 10-11%), which makes them perfectly refreshing for sipping during the summer months. Since they are made on the Atlantic coast (many of the vineyards are located directly on the ocean), it’s common to experience a bit of oceanic, salty minerality when tasting the wine. And since it’s a cool, wet area, the grapes don’t achieve a lot of ripeness, which makes the wine tantalizingly tart. Since it is a light white wine, it is often paired with fresh fish and seafood from the region.
Unique Wine Tradition of Basque Country
Basque Country wine region is the land of a zingy, zesty and slightly fizzy wine Txakolina. In the heart of Basque Country, there’s a very unique tradition in the local pintxos bars. Txakolina wine gets poured from a traditional glass pitcher called Porron from hight in the air to create a burst of bubbles in the glass. The wine that’s traditionally poured in this fun, flamboyant way is making waves all over the world as wine lovers discover it. If you haven’t come across it yet, that’s not a surprise-80% of the Txakoli wine produced is consumed locally.
Currently, about 3.5 million bottles of Txakolina are produced each year. There are three different Txakolina DOs – Getariako Txakolina, DO Bizkaiko Txakolina and DO Arabako Txakolina.
Txakolina de Getariako DO: The wine produced here is a young, straw-coloured, fruity wine. It is slightly acidic with an average alcohol content of 10.5%. The Ondarribi Zuri grape is used for the majority of white wine production (80 – 90%) while the Ondarribi Beltza grape is used for the rest of the region’s wine production, which is rosé and red wines. An unusual characteristic of Txakoli wine production here is that the wine is left to rest on its lees (the residual yeast) and is not moved, in order to ensure a slightly carbonated wine. Average annual production in the Denomination of Origin is about 2 million bottles.
Txakolina de Arabako DO: Located in the Alava province, it is the youngest DO in Basque Country Wine Region. In the south of Alava province, there are also parts of the vineyards that produce Rioja wines. When Txakoli vineyards are located in the north. DO Txakolina Arabaco has 9.5% of alcohol and mainly uses Hondarribi Zuri, Gross Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Corbu grape varieties in whites, and Hondarribi Beltza in red wines production.
Txakolina de Bizkaiko DO: Grown in small vineyards scattered throughout the territory of Bizkaia (Vizcaya in Spanish), usually situated on low, southern-facing hillsides near the coast. It is a young wine, made with the white Ondarrabi Zuri and Ondarrabi Zuri Zerratia and the Mune Mahatsa. Average annual production is 1,200,000 bottles. An unusual and difficult to find red Txakoli is produced here, has pinkish tones and is known as “Ojo Gallo.”
Surrounded by panoramic vineyard landscapes,Bodega Berroja offers great Basque wine experience to visitors in DO Txakolina de Bizkaiko.
Plan your visit to the winery, where they offer wines from their exclusive portfolio paired with local food. You will be introduced to the philosophy and great culture of Txakolina wine.
The best way to explore and get to know the wine traditions of this distinctive corner of Spain is to visit wineries in Basque Country. Try Txakolina wine poured in the traditional way, enjoy local gastronomical delicacies, mesmerizing landscapes and discover rural jewels of Spain. Does it sound like a dream wine holiday? Check out some of our local partner wineries in the Basque country and plan your visit.
Talai Berri Txakolina
Txakoli Basa Lore
Discover all Spanish wine-growing regions in this article.
Top 3 places to visit in Basque Country
San Sebastien – Beach, Art, Architecture and Fine Dining
The identity of San Sebastián as a seaside resort began over a century ago, when this wild stretch of Atlantic coast was favored by Spanish royals on holiday. Since then, Donostia — as the alluring city is known in Basque — has also established itself as a world-class gastro-paradise. And now, as a 2016 European Capital of Culture, the city has begun to again reinvent itself, this time as a cultural destination. So when fall’s cooler temperatures force all but the hardiest surfers to abandon the beaches, you’ll still find myriad enticements to feast on — from fine art and architecture to local design and craft beer — before the pintxo bars beckon.
Bilbao – Home to World Famous Guggenheim
Winner of the 2018 European City of the Year, Bilbao rose from its post-industrial economic malaise of the 1990s after the collapse of its steel and shipbuilding industries by investing heavily in culture.
In the last 20 years or so, the Basque city of Bilbao has become a major hub for art, architecture and design and is home to many museums, galleries and architectural marvels. The opening of Guggenheim Bilbao in 1997 put the industrial northern Spanish city on the map. Housed in an interesting metal ship-like building designed by Frank Gehry, the museum showcases works by artists such as Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Eduardo Chillida, Yves Klein and Anselm Kiefer.
Many of the larger artworks are also displayed outside, in what is known as the ‘Art District’. Bilbao’s Old Town, known as the Casco Viejo, is an interesting spot to explore, full of narrow winding streets, colourful architecture and an interesting array of shops and bars. Some of the top sights in the Old Town include the Catedral de Santiago de Bilbao, the Archeological Museum, the Plaza Nueva, and the churches of San Nicolás and San Antón.
The city’s famous La Ribera market sits just on the edge of the Casco Viejo, next to the river, and is a good place to get acquainted with the Bilbao’s famous food scene, as well as to pick up some local products to take back home. The market is housed in a historic building, designed by Pedro Ispizua and built in 1929, on the site of the old market dating back to the 14th century. Not only will you find stalls here, but also bars, restaurants and live music spaces, making it great a place for a lively night out too. Covering over 10,000 m2, it is the biggest indoor covered market in Europe.
Underwater Wine Cellar of Basque Country
Have you ever heard about underwater wine tourism? might sound like nonsense, but in Basque Country, near the Bay of Plentzia, It is real!
Sunk ships full of perfectly preserved wine bottles inspired new project in Basque Country to create underwater oenological laboratory 15 meters below sea level. The scientific innovative project took wine ageing on another stage. Group of winemakers, biologists, and oenologists study the beneficial qualities that marine environment has on wines. It may sound unreal but in Basque Country, they offer the opportunity to try different types of wines, txakolina and ciders, aged in an undersea oenological laboratory.
Emulating undersea treasure hunters, diving enthusiasts, as well as wine-lovers, are able to indulge the palate with wines which have been aged undersea. Those who hold a diving licence will have the option of diving underwater and visiting the laboratory and the artificial reef which has been created around it. At the end of the diving experience, you will be able to choose your bottle of wine and enjoy the unique qualities of wine once you are on dry land where experts will explain all the details about the project.
Alternatively, you can also have a chance to take a trip on a boat around the vicinity of the oenological undersea laboratory, where you will learn more about this fascinating submerged wine cellar and discover this beautiful part of the Basque Coast. During the trip, you will taste a bottle of wine from the laboratory and will learn about the influence which the marine environment has on its maturation and on its flavours.
Awe-Inspiring Landscapes and Natural Beauty
The Basque Country is famous for its awe-inspiring natural landscape, from the majesty of its mountains to its stunning coast, which is famous amongst surfers. From rivers and waterfalls to well preserved forests, this area of Spain offers many spots in which visitors will find themselves surrounded by beauty.
Plaiaundi Ecological Park – One of Basque Country’s Must See Natural Attractions
The Plaiaundi Ecological Park is located in the area between Bidasoa River and the irrigation channel of Jaizubia, in a setting with views to the Txingudi Bay, in full contact with the urban area of Irun. Nowadays, Plaiaundi is an internationally recognised area of significant naturalistic value. It is integrated into the “Txingudi” Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) and the “Txingudi-Bidasoa” Site of Community Interest (SCI), having been proposed both spaces for integrating the European Network of Protected Areas called Natura 2000. Moreover, this space forms part of the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
The interpretation centre is located at the entrance of the park, where guided group visits are organised. If you want to visit the park on your own, there are 17 explanatory panels distributed along the 2-km route. Besides, Plaiaundi offers several spaces for bird watching.
Kakuetta Gorge – Breathtaking Forests, Views and Landscapes
Kakouetta is a 4.5 kilometers gorge formed by the river Uhaitza. It is located in the French part of Basque Country, in the western side of the Pyrenees, and it is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the mountain range. Kakouetta emerges from the hill of Urdaite near Isaba. This narrow gorge is filled with limestone caves and waterfalls. It was first explored in 1906 by Édouard-Alfred Martel, and travelers can still walk inside this amazing marvel of nature. The gorge has a lot to offer: with its many mysterious caves, suspended bridges and gushing waterfalls, it is the ideal place for an unforgettable adventure.
The Holzarte Suspension Bridge – An Adventure not for the Faint Hearted!
The Holzarte Suspension Bridge is located in Larrau. It is a beautiful walk to the bridge for visitors as long as they remember to wear suitable footwear as the path can be rather slippey. Along the walk there are numerous stops at look out points and view points to stop and enjoy the magnificent surroundings.
The gastronomy of Basque Country is based on quality of its products, gifts of the sea and the land and simple way of preparation.
Angulas – Caviar of Basque Country
Angulas is one of the most expensive Spanish seafood delicacy from Basque Country. They are baby eels typically consumed when they are still very young, slimy and transparent with garlic and oil. Due to overfishing and environmental degradation, this type of fish is endangered nowadays. This is one of the reasons why the price is reaching 1000 EUR per kilo. This gourmet food is a great experience for those who are interested in Spanish Gastronomy.
However, there is are some budget versions available on the market and a good option for those who want to try it without spending a fortune. The cheaper version of Angulas is made of Pollock fish (gulas). You can enjoy Gulas on sliced bread topped with mayonnaise and some red peppers.
Pintxos – Small snacks with big flavours
A Pincho, Pintxo or Pinchu is a small snack, typically eaten in bars or taverns as a small snack while hanging out with your friends or family; Pinchos are especially popular in La Rioja, Cantabria, Asturias, the Basque Country and Navarra. Besides gastronomical value for a big part of Spain, this dish also plays a very big role in forming the culture of socializing and it is regarded as a foundation of local culture and society.
Pinchos might have similarity with popular tapas but unlike tapas, Pinchos are usually ‘spiked’ with a skewer or toothpick, to a piece of bread and served in individual portions. Despite the difference between tapas and Pinchos, you might find the same item called “pincho” in one place and “tapa” in another.
Chicken Basquaise – Chicken With a Spanish Twist
This braised chicken dish is emblematic of the Basque region’s affection for colorful, peppery stews. Though paprika can work in a pinch, it’s the flakier, lightly spicy, more enigmatic Espelette pepper that’s characteristic of the region.
Discover Andalusia by visiting all its UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Andalusia wine region is a great destination with a broad offering of wineries with wine tasting and tours. On our website you can book your visits in order to be prepared for your time in the region.
Sonomontano is the famous wine of Aragón. You can experience amazing wine tasting and tour activities at the various wineries in Aragón . On our site you can read all about this regions to be prepared for your stay.
The beautiful beaches and also much more. Balearic Islands has a large number of wineries that offer wine tasting and tour. Visit our website to book beautiful wine-filled experiences and learn more about the wine region.