Not only are the wines outstanding, but the architecture of the wineries themselves are truly amazing. Make sure to visit:
Bodegas Ysios: Located at Camino de la Hoya Laguardia, this winery is a must see if you go to La Rioja. It was designed by Spanish Architect Santiago Calatrava and was one the first architecturally significant wineries to be built (2001), which now has raised the the bar for other projects. Now you can find some truly great architecture in the area, in the hotels as well as the wineries. You can see some of his drawings on the tour but you can also see how he tried to tie in the architecture with the mountains behind the winery. The cellar with its many oak barrels is as attractive as the exterior. You have to book appointments. I sent e-mails myself or you can book it through your hotel concierge.
Marques de Riscal: The City of Wine is located in the small town of El Ciego. The winery produces some of the best red wines so make sure to book a tour so you can taste some of their efforts. I particularly enjoyed seeing the aging cellars and the cellar (under lock and key) that has kept some of each year’s production dating back to 1858.
But the highlight to me was seeing the attached hotel which was designed by architect Frank Gehry. It is a striking building with his traditional ribbon-like design where some panels are colored silver, yellow and pink/purple. I found the hotel to be somewhat pricey so I made a reservation for lunch which allowed me to see the building during the daytime. There are two restaurants, the Gastronomic Marques de Riscal and the Bistro 1860. My reservation was for the Bistro but was served that day on the Gastromonic side. I thought the food was good, but the views from the restaurants of El Ciego and the surrounding countryside were great. The lunch reservation allowed me to see the hotel as there is a security guard controlling the entry.
Bodegas Darien Ctra. Nacional 232 km 7, Logrono Spain: This is a winery just outside of Logrono. It won an award in architecture for The Best in Wine Tourism 2009. Tours and Tastings are available. It has an interesting exhibition of ceramic wine jugs or ollas on display. They also have a gourmet restaurant.
Bodegas Baigorri: It is located in Samaniego just north of El Ciego and west of Laguardia at Ctra Viorio-Logrono Km 53. My hotel was 5 minutes from the winery. Designed by Basque architect Inaki Aspiazu, it was one of my favorites as the building is all glass with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and villages. I just had a brief tour of the building rather than a full winery tour and tasting. You can do a tour and tasting or tour and a gourmet meal with wines.
R. Lopez de Heredia, at Av. De Vizcaya in Haro, has a great designed tasting room by Zaha Hadid. Unfortunately I was not able to fit it in.