Exploring the Richness of Rioja with a Day in Orlando, FL


On a sunlit September day, Orlando hosted a grand celebration of Spain’s vinous excellence, courtesy of DOCa Rioja and an ensemble of over 60 renowned Rioja wineries. The air was thick with anticipation as wine enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and industry professionals gathered to delve deep into the essence of Spain’s famed winemaking region.

Morning Masterclass: The Secrets of Rioja

The day commenced with an informative and engaging Master Class from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM, titled “The Keys to Rioja’s Excellence: Quality, Diversity and Rigor.” Led by Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein, it was an immersive experience that shed light on what makes Rioja wines stand out on the global stage. The session was enriched by a panel discussion featuring George Miliotes, MS, and eminent bodega producers, providing insights straight from the heart of Rioja’s vineyards.

Afternoon: A Walkaround Tasting Odyssey

Post the enlightening masterclass, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, attendees were treated to the ‘Rioja Walkaround Tasting.’ This segment saw attendees weaving through welcoming tasting stations, sampling indigenous grape varietals, experimenting with new blends, and sipping on limited releases and vintage wines. With over 300 wines from Rioja’s three subregions up for tasting and delightful Spanish bites to complement, the atmosphere was nothing short of electric.

Guildsomm’s Rapid Rioja Sessions: A Deep Dive into Rioja’s Diversity

To further accentuate the tasting experience, Guildsomm presented three Rioja sessions:

  1. 1:30 PM – 1:50 PM: 100 KM of Diversity: Rioja’s 3 Subzones, offering a journey through Rioja’s varying terrains and climates.
  2. 2:30 PM – 2:50 PM: The Impact of Elevage, highlighting the influence of the aging process on Rioja wines.
  3. 3:00 PM – 3:20 PM: Top Library Vintages, Rioja’s Amazing Aging Ability, a testament to Rioja wines’ impeccable ability to age gracefully.

Spotlight on Featured Bodegas

The presence of distinguished bodegas further amplified the event. Notable mentions include the timeless classics from Baron de Ley Reserva, the refreshing rosé of Bodegas Muga, the exquisite Tempranillo Blanco from Ontañón Famlila, the pristine elegance of Bodegas Salvia Livius Rosado Reserva, and the masterfully crafted Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Gaudium. A few other standout names from the list of participants were Bodegas Faustino Art Collection Viura Chardonnay, La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza, and Viña Pomal Crianza, among others.

As the day concluded, attendees left with a satiated palate and enriched knowledge. The event, celebrating the grandeur of Spanish winemaking, reiterated Rioja’s undisputed position in the world of wines.

Here’s to many more such gatherings that celebrate the spirit and taste of world-class winemaking! 🍷