Foodies, yogis, wine-lovers and travelers – let us all unite!
This article will shine a spotlight on Hacienda Zorita – a gorgeous Spanish location that’s history is as rich and famous as its wine offerings. Located near Salamanca and in the heart of the Deuro Valley, we’ll dive into its impressive history, culture, cuisines, and of course, plenty of bottles of red!
Hacienda Zorita’s History
Apart from the cuisine, wine and wonderful landscape, The Duero Valley is well known for its art, culture and history. These lands have had a colorful past – the Romans, Arabs and Celtiberian tribes all passed through this area. As you can imagine, this region has many stories to tell and one of these stories features an illustrious traveler.
The first records of Zorita date back to 1366 when it was en estate belonging to the Dominican Order. Its rooms were used as lodgings for laborers who cultivated the vines more than 500 years ago. Hacienda Zorita’s claim to fame is that in 1487, it was here that explorer Christopher Columbus stayed and prepared the trip that would lead him to America. That’s right, Christopher Columbus! Just as he discovered new worlds, Hacienda Zorita is the perfect place to discover new wines and flavors.
Unfortunately, throughout most of the 20th century, there was no one who had the patience or dedication to take care of the hacienda. It lacked vision and direction and therefore went untended for a long time. In 2000, all of that changed and the Hacienda Zorita, nestled in the heart of the Deuro Valley, was restored and brought back to life as the home of Marqués de la Concordia family of wines. Now, with years of hard work and dedication, brick-by-brick it’s been restored to its original beauty.
Hacienda Zorita Today
Hacienda Zorita is a wonderful place to wind down and enjoy all that wine has to offer. Today, the exquisite 40-room hotel and working wine estate is a renowned site that draws in tourists from all parts of the world all year round. Easily accessible by car or plane (from Madrid or Barcelona), it’s just a few minutes drive from Salamanca. The farm-to-table restaurant serves produce from the fertile valley plains with all the core ingredients used in Zorita’s Kitchen directly sourced from the organic farm, only 15 minutes away. Be sure to indulge in some of Hacienda Zorita specialties including extra virgin olive oil, local cheese and cured ham produced on the estate.
The life and soul of this estate is the wine cellar with its 1800 barrels in the cellar, immersed in history. It is where the two wines from the Hacienda rest. The barrels of French and American oak hold the Hacienda Zorita tempranillo wine that comes from the vineyard in Arribes del Duero. At the far “noble” end of the cellar is the crianz – with only 32 barrels that contain the wine, Premium de la Hacienda. This traditional cellar also comprises a tasting room with audio-visuals and interactive tastings, which are an absolute must for the wine lover!
Overlooking the River Tormes, the complex has been carefully designed and prepared to create a dedicated center of excellence for the wines and cultural aspects of the region. Not only will guests be able to experience the joys of wine and its production, but also be able to stay in a unique, luxurious, yet tranquil setting, where their personal comfort and enjoyment are always the main objective.
The philosophy of Hacienda Zorita is simple, ‘Live slow’. They follow the Slow Food movement and the simple principles of good + clean + fair. As Mae West said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly”. The slow concept is the philosophy that defines the estate. The wines must mature slowly, just like the pace of life in the old monastery of the River Thomas – slow, patient, meticulous and full of love and care. It’s the perfect setting to be inspired; surrounded by canyons, vineyards, and desert – a world that takes its time.
The Duero Canyon – A Hidden Treasure
Arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Duero Valley is crossed by Europe’s longest “wine river,” the Duero. The Hacienda Zorita is situated right on the riverbank, just minutes away from the monumental Plaza Mayor.
The Duero Canyon is a must-see majestic beauty hidden off the beaten track of the Duero Valley. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find any information about it anywhere. Formed by the wild waters of the ‘wine river’, it covers 100km and is the only natural border between Spain and Portugal. Take in the majesty of the 600m high granite cliff faces; spot the many buffalo, sheep and pigs that inhabit the area as well as the birds and wildlife that inhabit the area.
Its surrounds include two Natural Parks on either side of the river that forms Europe’s largest protected area. The Arribes del Duero Natural Park covers 106.105 ha is known for its biodiversity and watercourses, which have eroded deep valleys and cliffs. This epic landscape is known as Arribes. It is a special “Bird Protection Area” recognized by the European Union and is home to the nearly extinct Black Stork.
The International Douro Natural Park spans across an equally large area along the Douro’s western riverbanks – as it is the border between Portugal and Spain it is called “International Douro”. This natural park was created to protect the scenic landscape, its flora and fauna.
A Day in the Life of…
One glorious day at Hacienda Zorita could see you enjoying some wine tasting and a tour of the Marqués de la Concordia wine cellar with its 1450 oak barrels. Then take a trip to the historic quarter of Salamanca which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum is worth a visit as is the Bullfighting Museum. Return to Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel & Spa for dinner in the Restaurant Zorita’s Kitchen for superb cuisine accompanied by more fine local wines, then take a drink and relax in the wine bar.
Whether you’re taking the scenic drive from Salamanca, enjoying the vast landscape the Duero Valley has to offer or the majesty of the Duero Canyon, or admiring the restored grounds of the estate -Hacienda Zorita really is a site to be seen.
From May 10-17 2015, Yogi Aaron from Blue Osa will be leading a group to Hacienda Zorita for the food, yoga and wine retreat of a lifetime.
About the Author
Robbie Allison-Young is a drummer, writer and thrill seeker. It’s these passions that have seen him tour the world with his band, Atlantis Awaits, and more recently, trek to Costa Rica and volunteer as a writer at Blue Osa. His search is endless and destinations boundless. Watch his band here.