Castilla y Leon, Spain



Grupo Yllera
Grupo Yllera pairs delicious food and wine for visitors.


I recently took part in a press trip to one of Spain’s most famous wine regions, Castilla y Leon. It had beautiful landscapes and wineries and some of the best whites and reds I’ve ever tasted—and I’ve been everywhere from Chile and Argentina to Napa Valley. To your clients, suggest a day or two in Madrid before they head two hours west to indulge in some art, history and tons of great wine.

Grupo Yllera Winery

My first stop was the small village of Rueda, which is known for its white wines, although we sampled only red wines during lunch at the Grupo Yllera winery.

Grupo Yllera is actually two wineries, the newer Groupo Yllera and the older El Hilo de Ariadna—where we had lunch—that dates to the 14th century and has a Greek mythology theme. It costs about $10 (based on one euro = $1.40) for a tour, which includes visits to both the new and the old wineries and samples of two to three glasses of wine. For less than $60, clients get the two tours, the glasses of wine, an authentic Spanish lunch and a bottle of wine to take home. I highly recommend the full tour.

Agent Advice

“The region is good for families, with many castles to explore, and it offers a romantic landscape for couples and wine lovers,” says Judith Wolf of Frosch Travel in Deerfield, IL. “It is well known for the white Rueda wine, the red Ribera del Duero and Toro. For travelers interested in human evolution, there is a museum in the city of Atapuerca displaying excavated remains of the first man. Castilla y Leon is probably best for the U.S. traveler who likes to visit areas off the beaten path.”

Yllera wine is absolutely delicious and goes perfectly with the cuisine served, which was traditional Spanish meats like lomo (Iberian ham—from the back of the pig and salchichon (salty Spanish sausage).

In the U.S., Yllera is exported to New York, Maryland, California, Virginia and Washington, D.C. I recommend the Bracamonte 2009 red wine and the sparkling white wine, Cantosan, which clients can purchase for just $11-$14 each.

Agents should note that a tour for the weekend should be booked at least a month in advance. The winery, which gets 12,000 visitors each year, offers a 10 percent discount for groups of 20 or more. Group visits are common since it hosts many corporate meetings and local bachelor and bachelorette parties.

Agents should get in touch with Manuela Calzado Korthof (011-34-983-868-177, [email protected]), export manager for Grupo Yllera, for details.

Two Hotels

Hotel Gareus, a 41-suite luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Valladolid’s city square is surrounded by an array of excellent restaurants and shops. I stayed in a first-floor suite, which was very modern chic with posh furniture, a flat-screen TV in both the living room and bedroom, and a spacious bathroom. However, it was impossible to drown out the noise from the streets, which is usually at its peak at around midnight and morning rush hour. So, book clients a room on either the second floor or ask for the furthest room on the first floor. Contact Jesus Zarzuela Mateos (011-34-983-21-4333, [email protected]), director general, with queries.

Hotel Los Almirantes is a brand-new hotel with 17 suites, all of which come with a balcony. Most rooms look out on views of the Santa Maria and Santiago churches as well as the Water Channel. For more information, agents should reach out to Director General Isabel Fernandez  Casquero (011-34-983-700-782, [email protected]).

Religious Art and History

On day three of my trip to Casilla y Leon, one of 17 regions in Spain, we made our way to the town of Medina de Rioseco for a limited-time art exhibition of religious works from throughout the world, called Passio: Las Edades DL Hombre.

For art lovers looking to immerse themselves in the passion and graphic detail of European art, this exhibition is more than worth it. It cost around $5 for a ticket to two “Passio” exhibitions, one at the Santiago de los Caballeros church in Medina de Rioseco and the other at the Church of Santiago in
Medina del Campo. The exhibition runs from now through November 6. For tickets, agents should e-mail [email protected].

We then dropped by the Museo de Semana Santa, a museum that was formerly the Church of Santa Cruz. This 16th-century building was restored in the 1950s after an earthquake destroyed most of it. Our next stop was Museo de San Francisco, formerly the San Francisco Convent, which had beautiful sculptures and a magnificent, gold-finished altar.

An hour away was the small town of Medina de Campo, where we visited the famous Castillo de la Mota. The castle, completed in the 15th century, stands five floors and 40 meters high. It was opened for tourism about a year ago and a full tour costs $8.

On our last day in Valladolid, we visited Museo Nacional Colegio de San Gregorio, a museum that houses some fascinating religious art. Different artists have created unique interpretations of Christ, each evoking a different emotion. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is closed on Mondays. The entry fee is about $4.