With a total of ten years experience leading food, wine and adventure tours from Italy to Argentina, Jenny decided to move to La Rioja in 2005 to learn more about its wine and culture. A Masters in Viticulture and Oenology and a lot of wine later she has gained a deep understanding of wine making in this region.
Jenny has spent her time working in wineries in the heart of La Rioja, latterly as head of wine tourism and visitor relations/experience at Bodegas Baigorri, famous for its modern architecture and ‘gravity-driven’ production method. Jenny currently organises wine tastings and guides wine tours to Rioja. She loves to share her enthusiasm for Rioja and its wines!
Interview with Jenny
When did you discover your passion for wine?
The primary school in the village I grew up in was located next to a brewery and a wine shop. My earliest memories stem from playing hide and seek with my sister amongst stacks of bottles and cases of wine whilst my Father purchased wine. There was something exotic about the different shaped bottles and labels!
My passion for wine also stems from my passion for travel. The best way to really experience the country is through the local food and wine! Just drinking wine wasn´t enough and my curiosity led me to study wine making in La Rioja, Spain.
What are your key highlights of the Rioja wine region?
There are so many wineries in a concentrated area. A tiny hill town with 60 inhabitants could perhaps have 12 wineries! People live and breathe wine in Rioja. If they don´t own vineyards, they make wine, work in a bodega, design wine labels or sell wine. Wine is a part of everyday life!
When are the best times to visit Rioja?
Late spring when the vines have woken from their long winter sleep and the buds have begun to blossom. The landscape is all green and the wild flowers are out. During the wine harvest the atmosphere is electric and the towns smell of wine and the vineyards are a hive of activity with swarms of tractors.
Do you have a personal favourite winery in the region and if so why?
Lopez de Heredia for sticking to its traditional wine making methods and Baigorri for its dramatic use of gravity to make its wines.
Which wine region in the world would you like to visit next?
Australia. Especially the Barossa and Yarra Valleys.
Finally, what would be your top 3 tips for the keen wine traveller?
1) Invest in a good wine tasting notebook to note down the wines you have tasted and where you have visited.
2) Book ahead! Wineries appointments in Rioja need to be booked in advance.
3) Don´t try to pack too many winery visits into one day. Allow some time to visit wineries and other attractions you come across too.