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A Tour of Viña Tondonia

As with all wines produced by the bodega at the time (Viña Zaconia, Viña Medokkia and Viña Bosconia), Don Rafael López de Heredia named Viña Tondonia after the old term for this large meander on the River Ebro in which it is situated, Tondon (from Latin retondo).  The proximity of the Viña Tondonia estate invites the visitor to stroll down the old mediaeval road that led to the Basque Country from La Rioja, crossing the Briñas Bridge.  Viña Tondonia is in fact a group of vineyards belonging to the bodega, located in the meander of River Ebro, that were bought and amalgamated by our founder.  If you should visit this area, we recommend the following route (1-2 hours on foot).


Before arriving at the bridge, you come across the Panteón de los Liberales cross commemorating the death of 7 people in the fight against Carlistas (challengers to Isabel II’s throne) on the 13th of March 1834. This monument was initially erected here, then moved to Florida Avenue in Haro, and finally moved back here. The Briñas Bridge had a hermitage on the right dedicated to Nuestra Señora del Puente del Ebro (Our Lady of the Ebro Bridge). Later, a field toll hut or pago de la cadena, was established, obliging travellers to pay a toll for themselves and their goods before crossing the bridge. The bridge still maintains its Gothic form, although it has been rebuilt many times.  Due to its importance in linking the two river banks, construction costs were contributed by villages both far and near.

The way to Tondonia continues on the right bank of the river, under the hill where the so-called Briñas Castle used to be.  This land was auctioned by the Haro Town Council in 1927, but Don Rafael, the only bidder, wasn’t able to buy it due to administrative problems.  Following the road you come across a path leading up a hill called Perdigón where there is a typical vineyard guard hut, and next to it you can see various rock-hewn tombs. In the area many archaeological remains have been found due to movement of soil since 1911 – we have kept many photographs and references.  Descending the path you should notice a vertical niche in the stone wall. From here you head towards the Piedra Redonda (round stone), and then take the left path to return to the CarraBriñas track which runs parallel to the River Ebro.

plano tondonia

Continuing on this route, and gazing at the riverside village of Briñas, you should notice the variety of vegetation and crops, from black poplar plantations to hills covered in vines. These vines first began to be planted in our property in 1913. Following the river’s meander you get to the San Roman district, which was once deserted, but where we are currently building a shed for use by agricultural workers.   Opposite this the Molino de Suso (Suso mill) and one of the first electrical power stations to service the surrounding villages, once stood.

The path follows the river, and at the first turning to the right, after a gentle uphill you reach the Castillo de Viña Tondonia, the founder’s dream project. Following the path you get a view of Haro, and from the top there are magnificent views of the Sierra de la Demanda (Demanda mountain range) the Montes Obarenes, the Conchas de Haro, and whole Sierra de Cantabría (Cantabria range). To the south, you can see  the Pancrudos and Serradero ranges and the Iregua River basin.

Descending to the left you soon reach the Caseta Ugalde, where there is a fountain built by Don Rafael López de Heredia Aransaez.  You then continue towards Haro until there is a fork to the right that takes you to a vineyard where a clear path passes next to a stone wall.  Following this path, you leave the Perdigón hut to your right, reach a clump of pine trees where a path to the left takes you back to the initial mediaeval road, and you’ll soon be able to distinguish the shape of the bodega.

This route offers the visitor a range of different types of crops – predominantly vines, both with traditional gobelet and modern trellis pruning systems.  There are also fields with cereals that will be replanted with vines in the future, and black poplars. A characteristic that enables the visitor to distinguish the vineyards of R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, are the gobelet training systems of vines, and the tidy 100 square metre plots (ie 1 hectare) as designed by the founder.

By way of fauna, you might come across ducks, European storks and grey herons in the wetlands, and partridges, foxes and rabbits slightly further up; not to mention wild boar spoor.

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