Haro in La Rioja is is the wine capital of the region and is famous for its Wine Festival and the wine fight, the Batalla de Vino.
The town of Haro has been built up around winegrowing since French grape growers came to the area looking for a way to escape the pests in their French vineyards. Thanks to its privileged climate at the meeting point between the Atlantic and Mediterranean climates with much sunshine, and sheltered by the Cantabrian Mountains, Haro is a great area for winemaking. The clacerous clay soils are also perfect for winegrowing. Located in the Ebro river basin and sided by the Obarenes mountains, and the Cantabrian mountains, the landscape of vineyards around Haro has its own charm.
In the town itself, Haro has some wonderful religious and civil architecture. The church of Santo Tomas, also known as the Watchtower, stands at the foot of a hill, and has an impressive archway. The squared bottom part of its tower was built in the Gothic style and topped with the octagonal Baroque part in 1720, crowned by a cupola with lantern. The basilica of the Vega is dedicated to Haro's patron saint, the Virgin of Vega, features a striking Baroque altarpiece from 1740 and has some very pretty gardens. For those more interested in civil architecture, there are many stately palaces dating from the 16th to 18th centuries blending the styles of Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical architecture.
Haro is also home to the Rioja Wine Interpretation Centre, a research centre with a museum for the public. Here you can learn all about the various processes of grape growing an wine production with videos, displays, diagrams and some containers filled with flavourings which you can smell. Every year, Haro celebrates its winegrowing heritage and status with the Battala de Vino at the Haro Wine Festival. A day where everyone wears white, later stained pink by the red wine which everyone throws over each other using buckets, water pistols and any other wine carrying containers to hand, the Batalla de Vino is a fun day culminating in traditional dances and partying in the evening, even after the big night of partying that goes before it! The festival is celebrated on June 29th every year, on the feast of San Pedro.
Wineries, known as bodegas, abound in the area surrounding Haro and you can also follow the Rioja Alta Wine Route, which passes through the town. Ther are also gastronomic routes to be explored, mainly around the Herradura, a horse-shoe shaped group of streets known for its tapas bars and restaurants. Wander around town and you will find many wine shops selling the local produce. Be sure to keep an eye out for the many sculptures relating to the world of winegrowing which are dotted around the town centre and on the roundabouts. Cod a la riojana with red peppers and tomatoes, and patatas riojanas, a stew of potatoes and chorizo sausage are popular dishes here. You can also enjoy stuffed peppers, a variety of stews, and lamb cutlets grilled sarmiento, with a splash of red wine. Dessert lovers will enjoy the torrijas, Spanish-style French toast served at the wine festival. Whatever your meal, La Rioja will provide you with the perfect wine to accompany your dish, especially its bounteous red wines, known as tinto.
Region: La Rioja
Province: La Rioja
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