Saturday, 2018 April 21

We were up early again. It wasn't a great night for either us thanks to the mosquitoes and the lack of air conditioning. Krista in particular was moving slowly.

We were supposed to meet the tour guide on the street near Valencia Nord, so we took the metro there. The location was promising - it was a busy bus stop used by other tours - but our tour guide never showed up. We were getting pretty nervous when we noticed another couple looking around as well. They were waiting for the same tour as us. A third group of three (parents and their grown daughter) also found us. The daughter called the tour guide - he had had trouble getting a van, but was on his way.

Paulius soon showed up as promised. Introductions were made all around, then we got into the van and headed out. He spoke excellent English and kept up a running commentary as we drove west.

Our first stop was Vera de Estenas. This was a beautiful family winery. Our host was the owner's son. He also spoke very good English, although he kept apologizing for it. I absolutely loved the house and the grounds - I'd happily live somewhere like that.

We started out in the house with a bit of an introduction to the winery and its history. We then moved through the courtyard to the rear and learned more about how the wine is made. From there it was back into the house for a tasting.

There were three wines on offer - two reds and a rose. They were all good, but I particularly liked the El Bobal de Estanas. Bobal is a local variety, little known to the wider world, and I thought it had a very nice flavor.

After the tasting we went through the old cellars. These were stacked with old bottles of wine - according to our host the family will still occasionally crack some open for special occasions.

From there we went through the shop. I bought a bottle of bobal.

After leaving Vera de Estenas, Paulius drove us to Hoya de Cadenas. This is a huge winery - one of the largest in Spain - and a very interesting contrast with Vera de Estenas.

We parked and immediately got on a shuttle that had been waiting for us. It was a fair drive back through the property to the original winery building. It was a pleasant drive through the vines; olives and other plants were at the ends of the fields.

The rest of the people on the shuttle started on their tour, conducted in Spanish. Our group waited a while, then started in. This was the original farmhouse; it's still used by the owning family so only a portion of the house itself was open, but the tour included some of the outbuildings, the courtyard, and a small museum. The museum covered some of the history of the winery as well as "painted barrels", something that they sponsor every year.

We loaded up on the shuttle and rode most of the way back to the parking lot. We had passed the modern winery on our way back and now we stopped there.

From there it was a short hop back to the parking lot, where we descended down to the barrel cellar. This is also where the tasting room was located.

Again there were three choices. I didn't think the bobal here was as good as at Vera de Estenas. I did like the Ostras Pedrini. Much to my surprise, I also liked the saki-wine combination they offered us.

Back on the surface, we stopped at the shop (I bought a bottle each of the two wines I'd liked), then got back into the van to go to lunch. Paulius drove us to a wonderfully charming small town named Fuenterrobles. We went to Restaurante Genaro (unfortunately they don't have a website), which was clearly more than just a restaurant - it was more like a community center. It had a small bar, a couple TVs showing sports, a room with a huge group clearly celebrating something, and a lot of regulars. It was also clearly a family-run place, with grandparents and parents manning the bar while the grandkids ran in and out and played.

The food was absolutely fantastic; along with the restaurant in Xativa this was probably one of the two best meals we had on a trip of great food.

This was the last stop of the tour, unfortunately - I had an absolute blast and would have loved to keep going, but it was getting late. We piled back into the van one last time and headed back to Valencia.

I particularly want to call out Paulius - he was an excellent guide. Ambia Tours offers a variety of tours around Valencia, and I heartily recommend them.

We arrived back in Valencia at about 5 PM. We got onto the metro and were soon back at our hotel. We dropped off Krista's camera and the wine I had bought, then walked over to Consum to buy groceries for another picnic.

Back in the hotel we had a nice supper and then just relaxed. We also planned out a trip to Cuenta for Monday.

Friday, 2018 April 20 Sunday, 2018 April 22