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The Spirit of Northern Spain

Premier Tours & Travel will be exploring the diverse cultures of Northern Spain by way of our hand-selected local hosts, expert in the distinct wines of the region, as well as the unique cuisine, history, and traditions throughout. From the Pintxos, sidra, and Basque Txakoli, to tours of San Sebastián, Getaria, and Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, quickly see (and taste) what makes the Basque region so special. The flavourful adventure continues in the DOCa Rioja region amidst its medieval walled village of Laguardia bursting with bodegas; and the renowned village of Briones celebrated for its exceptional vineyards and views. Explore wineries known as much for their brilliant wines as for the brilliant architecture of their wineries, including the modern Marques de Riscal, Vivanco, and Bodegas Ysios (among others). Cosmopolitan Madrid and its world-class museums to complete this epic journey.

May 25 - June 3, 2023 (departing May 24, 2023)
July 6-July 15, 2023 (departing July 5, 2023) with Michelin-Starred Chef Bob Waggoner

August 31-September 9, 2023 (departing August 30, 2023)
October 5-October 14, 2023 (departing October 4, 2023) with Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans, Co-Chair, Decanter World Wine Awards
From $7999 Per Person (DBL); Single Supplement $1800; Max 20 passengers; $1000 Per-Person Deposit

May 24 - June 2, 2024 (departing May 23, 2024)
August 30-September 8, 2024 (departing August 29, 2024)

October 4-October 13, 2024 (departing October 3, 2024) with Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans, Co-Chair, Decanter World Wine Awards
From $8299 Per Person (DBL); Single Supplement $1800; Max 20 passengers; $1000 Per-Person Deposit
Optional Extensions to Barcelona (including a Cavas experience), Segovia (with a gourmet traditional lunch experience), and/or Toledo, Spain (with an exclusive truffle experience). Available Upon Request

Highlights of San Sebastián (3 Nights)

Depart on an overnight flight from the United States.

Day 1: SAN SEBASTIÁN OR BILBAO 

Arrive in San Sebastián or Bilbao — one of the most famous culinary destinations in the world. Our Premier Tours & Travel representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your accommodations for the next three nights. En route, you will see that — although this coastal city is small — it is hugely cosmopolitan, and home of the annual San Sebastián International Film Festival. The artful combination of historic and modern … traditional and contemporary makes San Sebastián a seaside gem.  

Hotel Londres (or similar) with views of La Concha Beach in San Sebastian will be your accommodations. After checking in, enjoy some time at leisure before joining our exclusive experience with our highly accredited guide — and personal friend — to wander the old quarter of San Sebastián to enjoy the famous edible pieces of art — Pintxos — paired with specialty-of-the-house wines, such as Basque Txakoli, or the famous Basque cider (sidra). 

 Day 2:  SAN SEBASTIÁN 

Join the group for a guided, panoramic and walking tour following breakfast today. Drive along the Bay of Biscay past the glistening beaches of San Sebastián: La Concha, Ondarreta, and Zurriola. Pass the Town Hall, which is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Spain. It was originally designed as a casino in 1886 during the Belle Epoque and became the Town Hall in 1947. View San Sebastián’s fishing port and world-famous marina overflowing with luxury yachts. Stroll the narrow streets of La Parte Vieja — the Old Town — with the stunning Baroque Basílica de Santa María del Coro. Visit La Calle 31 de Agosto to learn about the historical significance of the street and the annual tradition honoring it. Enjoy a ride back in time on the 1912 funicular up Mount Igueldo with the most iconic, panoramic views of the city. 

 Lunch and the balance of your day will be at leisure to explore this beautiful city. Restaurant reservations are recommended for this bustling cosmopolitan city. Stroll the Paseo de la Concha and the tree-lined Alameda del Boulevard for fabulous shops or visit Museo de San Telmo, the museum of Basque culture and history. With its abundance of amazing restaurants and celebrated chefs, San Sebastián is widely considered one of the world’s premier culinary destinations. Reconnect with the group for a bespoke wine tasting in the hotel before enjoying dinner at one of San Sebastián’s quintessential restaurants.

 Day 3:  SAN SEBASTIÁN 

After a morning at leisure to recover from the evening’s epicurean delights, make the short drive along the coast to the charming village of Getaria. Set between the sea and the mountains, it is truly not to be missed. Enjoy an authentic lunch with the local Basque wine, txakoli, at a restaurant favorited by the locals (and little known to tourists). Take time after lunch to shop at leisure or visit the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa — a museum dedicated to the Getaria-born Spanish fashion designer, and the founder of the Balenciaga fashion house. After returning to the hotel, the balance of your day and dinner will be at leisure.  

Highlights of DOCa Rioja (4 Nights)

 DAY 4:  SAN SEBASTIÁN – BILBAO – BRIONES/ RIOJA 

Say farewell to San Sebastián today and depart to Bilbao, Spain. Pay a visit to the world-famous Guggenheim Museum, which is a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by renowned Canadian American architect Frank O. Gehry. Your tour will be guided by the “Keeper of the Keys” to the Guggenheim Museum (tickets included). Lunch will be at leisure at one of the local eateries suggested by our tour director. Continue on to La Rioja with a stop at the iconic Marques de Riscal to see another of Gehry’s works. 

Take the time to relax on the drive to La Rioja. Enter the medieval village of Briones and check into your accommodations for the next four nights at the brand-new Hotel Santa Maria Briones — recently named the #1 hotel in Rioja. Hotel Santa Maria Briones is a boutique especially designed for adults, housed in a large 16th century property adjacent to the town Tower and the walls of las Cuarenta. Reconnect with the group for dinner to experience authentic Rioja gastronomy and wines.

DAY 5:  SUSO & YUSO MONASTERIES — EZCARAY 

Today, visit the San Millán Suso and Yuso Monasteries, an UNESCO World Heritage site. The monastic community, founded by St. Millán in the mid-6th century, became a place of pilgrimage. A fine Romanesque church built in honor of the holy man still stands at the site of Suso. It was here that the first literature was produced in Castilian, from which one of the most widely spoken languages in the world today is derived. In the early 16th century, the community was housed in the fine new monastery of Yuso, below the older complex; it is still a thriving community today. 

 Enjoy free time wandering in the beautiful town of Ezcaray, Spain. Sitting in the Sierra de la Demanda mountains, on the banks of the river Oja, the town of Ezcaray and its surrounding area are incredibly picturesque. Visit the church of Santa María la Mayor, built between the 12th and 14th centuries, and declared a Historic-Artistic Site; make your way to the buildings that form the Royal Cloth Factory of Santa Bárbara, from the 18th century, and the dyeing house popularly known as “El Fuerte,” or simply visit the quaint boutiques and purchase some of their renown Ezcaray scarves for yourself or gifts. 

Reconnect with the group for a traditional Sunday lunch at one of Rioja’s finest restaurants, Echaurren Tradition, with 2-Michelin Star Chef Francis Paniego and his brother ‘Chefe’, one of the best sommeliers in Spain. Echaurren Tradition is part of the history of traditional Rioja cuisine. That credit goes to their mother, Marisa Sanchez, who gathered and passed down the menu of this restaurant, a bunch of unforgettable recipes, which represent the best legacy that a mother can leave to her children. This experience will change how you view Sunday lunch with your family forever. Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

 DAY 6: LAGUARDIA — RIOJA 

Today, visit the gorgeous vineyards of Luis Cañas, owned by the same family for more than a century. Enjoy learning about their exceptional history during a guided tour and wine tasting to start your day. Next you will visit world-renowned Marqués de Murrieta — home of Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva 2010, the Wine Spectator’s Number 1 wine in the world. This exceptional experience starts with a guided tour of the vineyards, then the exceptional new technical facilities, the founding winery-museum of the 19th century, the Ygay Castle, and finishes with a high-gastronomy menu with wine pairings. 

 Your day will end with a visit to Laguardia — the capital of Rioja Alavesa and one of the most beautiful small towns in Spain. A private, guided city tour will unveil this medieval, walled, hilltop village as you stroll its narrow streets and winding alleys, passing mysterious doorways, lovely artisanal shops, historic churches, and happy discoveries. In addition, visit a small, 5th-generation, family-owned winery personally known by Premier Tours & Travel and a favorite of the locals. Return to the hotel for the evening at leisure.  

 DAY 7: BRIONES — RIOJA 

Visit Haro, a town that has become the epicenter of wine, wineries, and gastronomy of the La Rioja region due to the concentration of world-class centenary wineries all within walking distance, including La Rioja Alta and Bodega Muga

La Rioja Alta is one of the foremost estates in the Rioja region, formed in 1890 by five Riojan and Basque families, and located in the historic Barrio de la Estación (Station Quarter) of Haro. It is particularly known for its classically styled, supple Gran Reserva reds that can age gracefully for many decades. La Rioja Alta, selected as one of the world’s most admired wine brands, offers the perfect way to introduce you to — or to deepen your knowledge of — Rioja wines through a tour of this century-old winery. Taste a selection of wines before enjoying an exceptional lunch cooked over an open fire. 

 A visit to Haro would be incomplete without a tasting at Bodega Muga. Bodegas Muga is a family business founded by Isaac Muga and Aurora Caño in 1932, and is located nearby La Rioja Alta. It is particularly known for its traditional style Reserva wines that are only produced in vintages of utmost quality. You will have the opportunity to taste from its portfolio of wines. 

The evening will be at leisure to relax at the hotel or further explore Briones. 

Highlights of Madrid (2 Nights)

DAY 8:  RIOJA – MADRID  

Depart for Madrid to enjoy the vibrant capital of Spain, this morning. Check in at the Pestana Plaza Mayor Hotel with excellent views overlooking the vibrant Plaza Mayor — located in the heart of the city, near the markets, shops, and museums in Madrid. After checking in, enjoy the balance of your day at leisure to experience the nearby shops, sights, and dining options, including the nearby tempting Mercado San Miquel or Plaza Mayor with myriad dining — and shopping — options. 

Join us for dinner and a Flamenco Show at the most traditional and emblematic Tablao in Madrid. With more than 60 years of history, Corral de la Moreria is the most prestigious flamenco Tablao and the world’s only with a Michelin star. To complete this magical evening in Madrid, join us for a nightcap in Plaza Mayor upon our return. 

DAY 9:  MADRID

This morning depart on a panoramic and guided walking tour of Madrid. Go deeper into Old Madrid through its narrow, cobblestone streets in the Hapsburg quarter. See the exceptional buildings and plazas of Renaissance and Baroque style, and discover the Royal Palace (including entrance tickets), one of the best-preserved palaces in Europe. Enjoy a final farewell lunch with our friend and Expert Host Chef Maria Jimenez Latorre, at one of the city’s hottest restaurants, La Posada del Nuncio for tapas and paella. 

DAY 10:  MADRID  

As you know, all good trips must come to an end. Transfer to the airport this morning based upon your departure time. ¡Adiós por ahora, Spain! 

Standard rooms are included for this tour (per hotel designation for same). Upgraded rooms are available upon request and based upon availability.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Itinerary subject to change. Premier Tours & Travel reserves the right to modify programs and itineraries (including arranged sightseeing, accommodations, dining experiences, aircraft, trains, vessels, and so forth) at any time due to unforeseen circumstances or circumstances beyond Premier Tours & Travel’s control, including force majeures. In the instance our Expert host cancels due to unforeseen circumstances, Premier Tours & Travel has the right to substitute another Expert host, such as a chef, in such an emergency (timing allowed) and/or the tour will continue in its entirety. Every effort is made to operate our itineraries as planned but alterations may need to be made after the final itinerary has been issued. Airfare is not included. Deposits are utilized to secure services on your behalf and are nonrefundable. Deposits are transferrable to a future Expertly Done Culinary & Wine Travel tour. One glass of wine is included with applicable meals unless noted otherwise. All other alcoholic beverages are the responsibility of each adult guest. Guests are limited to one carry on and one checked baggage and will be responsible for any additional fees charged for additional luggage. Please see Key Items to Know Before You Leave Home attached.

 

Premer Tours & Travel is proud to be only U.S. agency partnering with the Association of Women in Gastronomy (Asociacion de Mujeres in Gastronomia (MEG)), curating tours with exclusive, authentic experiences showcasing Spanish cuisine, wine, and culture!

MASTER OF WINE SARAH JANE EVANS

Sarah Jane Evans is an award-winning wine writer and journalist, Co-Chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards, and a former Chairman of the IMW (2014-16). Winner of the Robert Mondavi Winery Award for the highest overall marks in the Theory exam. Sarah Jane will bring expert wine knowledge, education, and tasting counsel to our tour.

As a writer and consultant one of her special interests is Spain and Sherry. She is Chairman of the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino. She is a certified Sherry educator; and has received the awards of Dama de Albariño and Dama de Solear. Her books on Spain include 'Seville', and 'The Wines of Northern Spain'. She is currently writing 'The Wines of Central and Southern Spain'. Her other interests include the wines of South and North America; Greece; and the great fortified and sweet wines of the world. She studied Classics, and Social & Political Sciences at Cambridge University. She began her career in book publishing, and today is a Trustee of the André Simon Book Award, and a Series Editor of the Classic Wine Library. She spent a decade as Associate Editor of the BBC's Good Food magazine, and has a strong interest in taste and flavour, and in encouraging consumers to build their own confidence in tasting. She's a Founder Member of the Academy of Chocolate and the author of 'Chocolate Unwrapped'. Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Broderers.

ABOUT CHEF WAGGONER

  

A California native, Chef Bob Waggoner received his formal training with Michael Roberts at Trumps in Los Angeles from 1981 to 1983, and later in France at a constellation of Michelin-rated restaurants with chefs Jacques Lameloise, Charles Barrier, Pierre Gagnaire, Gerard Boyer and Mark Meneau. At 23, he took on his first chef position at the private club “Members” in Caracas, Venezuela. Chef Bob Waggoner returned to France at age 24 to become chef of the Hotel de la Poste in Avallon for three years. Then, in 1988 at age 26, in the town of Moneteau in Burgundy, he became the first American chef to own his own restaurant in France, the much acclaimed Le Monte Cristo.  He is one of the few Americans to be Knighted with the “l’Odre du Mérite Agricole” from the Government of France.

In 1991, Waggoner was offered the opportunity of Chef de Cuisine with Chef Jean-Pierre Silva, the two-star Michelin, at Le Vieux Moulin in Beaune, France. After 11 years in France, he returned to the States in 1993 to cook at the award-winning Turnberry Isle in Florida, before joining The Wild Boar in Nashville, where he earned the restaurant a coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award and the Grand Award from Wine Spectator.

He finally found his way to Charleston where he was Executive Chef of Charleston Grill at Charleston Place for a dozen years. Every year Chef Bob was at the Charleston Grill, it was awarded AAA Four-Diamond and the Mobile Four-Star award, and in 2001 he was nominated four times for The Beard Foundation "Best Chef Southeast" award. He is the author of the Charleston Grill at Charleston Place: French Influenced Lowcountry Cuisine cookbook. Always well regarded as a media-savvy chef, he won an Emmy for his television show “Off the Menu” with Turner South, and was the host of the PBS series "U Cook with Chef Bob" and "U Travel with Chef Bob." He is currently working with top country musicians in Nashville on the hit show "Sing for Your Supper."

Now Chef Bob is moving on from his restaurant past, but he is certainly not leaving the kitchen.  Drawing from the wealth of artisans in the Charleston area, from woodworkers to artists and cabinet makers, Chef Bob has created a stunning demonstration kitchen in downtown Charleston with reclaimed wood floors, a u-shaped marble countertop and even a Grand player piano.  Despite the sophisticated surroundings, Chef Bob's cooking classes are relaxed and casual, and with his easygoing nature he can teach anyone the culinary tips and techniques for "how it's done" in the finest restaurants.

CHEF MARIA JIMENEZ LATORRE

Premier Tours & Travel is proud to introduce our tours with Chef Maria Jimenez Latorre, a native Spanish celebrity chef. Chef Maria Jimenez Latorre is a renowned chef in Spain with a following throughout the country for her magnetic personality and culinary style. She is a radio and television personality, as well as the leading chef at Alambique Escuela de Cocina cooking school, founder of We Present catering company, and the face of Orujo de Aceite de Oliva in Spain.

Languages: Spanish (native speaker),  English (fluent) , French (fluent)

Highlights of Recent Work Experience

2009 to present  -  Alambique Escuela de Cocina cooking school

Chef leading cooking events at Alambique.: hands-on gastronomic events, team-buildings and corporate events, specialising in traditional Spanish cuisine.  Also teaching hand-on beginners courses and cooking with confidence classes, as well as  cookery classes for children including classes which combine cooking and magic

2013– present – Founder and partner in catering company We Present

Serving weddings, christenings, first communions , birthday parties, dinners and corporate events with chef Sergio Fernandez.

2018 to Present  - Ambassador For ORIVA

Cooking demonstrations and helping professionals and hotelerie schools learn how to use Orujo de Aceite de Oliva in particular in frying techniques. Included trainning for the “perfect fritter ” challenge.  Over 2020 this took the form of remote classes and videos for social media.