Lunch at Grupo Yllera in Rueda, Castilla y Leon

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Visiting Grupo Yllera Winery in Rueda, Spain

After touring Monasterio de San Jose in the peaceful farming town of Medina del Campo, we headed to Rueda, another town in the province of Valladolid.

Grupo Yllera Bodega in Rueda
Bodegas Grupo Yllera S L Bodega in Rueda

Rueda is a very small town located 30 km southwest of the provincial capital. And there is one thing that people would associate with the town of Rueda. Whenever they say ‘Rueda’, only one thing comes to mind, and that is… Wine!

Grupo Yllera Barrels of Wine
Grupo Yllera Barrels of Wine

Rueda, despite its small geographical area, is one of Spain’s leading producers of wine. The town has a lot of wineries which the locals call bodegas, but most require prior reservations to visit. We went to only one bodega here, named Grupo Yllera.

stairs to underground winery
stairs leading to underground winery

We arrived in the said winery at around 11AM. A few minutes later, we met the lovely marketing officer, who would also serve as our tour guide to tour us around the winery.

Grupo Yllera Winery in Spain
Grupo Yllera Winery in Spain

As we toured around the winery, the tour guide gave us a brief history lesson regarding the bodega. She told us that Grupo Yllera, the winery, had a hard time catching up with the other wineries during its establishment in 1970. Rueda was already a wine-producing town right from the very start, and the several other wineries and wine cellars only added to the tight wine competition in town.

Old Barrels of Wine
Old Barrels of Wine

In 1983, the “fifth generation” of wine producers Jesús and José Yllera, and oenologist Ramón Martínez launched a Grupo Yllera-produced red wine that was made from one-year-old barrel-fermented grapes from the Duero Valley.

Grupo Yllera Restaurant
Grupo Yllera Restaurant

With that extravagantly-made red wine and the bodega’s signature Verdejo white wines, Grupo Yllera eventually found its way to the top. The tour guide paused midway her history lesson, as if savoring an invisible glass of wine. We all laughed at this, and our tour guide continued on.

Inside Grupo Yllera Restaurante
Inside Grupo Yllera Restaurante

We reached Grupo Yllera’s main cellar. The tour guide told us that it is 20 meters, or roughly 65 feet deep underground. I was so focused on our tour guide’s history lesson that I didn’t notice where we were headed. When she told us that we were meters deep into the ground, I suddenly became aware of the cold temperature. Moreover, I suddenly found myself in a maze of tunnels.

Grupo Yllera Wine Selection
Grupo Yllera Wine Selection

It sure looked creepy, but knowing that in each tunnel are barrels and barrels of sweet wine, I wouldn’t mind getting lost here by myself! It’s a wine museum, wine storage & shop and restaurant rolled into one.

Fruits and Cheese
Fruits and Cheese

The tour guide told us that Grupo Yllera’s underground maze of wine cellars have a “pet” minotaur, a Greek Mythological creature that is said to be half human and half bull. In fact, the tour guide added, the cellars are collectively called “The Thread of Ariadne” (another character from Greek Mythology). I figured this must be Grupo Yllera’s signature and creative way of conducting their tours.

Damaged Part of the Winery
Ruins or Damaged Part of the Winery

As we continued touring “The Thread of Ariadne”, our tour guide showed us the ruins of Grupo Yllera’s old winery. It got burned a long time ago, and therefore, to continue Grupo Yllera’s winemaking legacy, a new and larger winery had to be built.

Grilled Lamb
Grilled Lamb

A few minutes later, we were led to several tunnels that contained wines that were over 30 years old. Everything in the Thread looked so old, and when she said that the wines were only 30 years old, I can’t help but think that she was being humble. After all, the art of winemaking involves age.

Soup
Soup

After the underground tour, we headed to the restaurant for lunch. Grupo Yllera, unlike most bodegas, has good lighting and an elevator to make the underground cellars more accessible for the tourists.

Steak
Steak

We had the restaurant to ourselves during lunch, and we were served a traditional array of local lunch. The temperature on the surface was higher, and that made our sit down lunch more enjoyable.

Assorted Dessert
Assorted Dessert

We had hot pumpkin soup, bread, Croquetas Fritas, sliced fruits, cheese, grilled lamb, and a Mediumrare steak for our main dish. We also had a very good set of assorted cakes for dessert and wine for drinks, of course!

Each glass was truly a delicacy, and thanks to that, we were able to choose which bottles of wine we liked best when we stopped to buy our own bottles to take home for souvenirs.

Grupo Yllera Winery
Address: Rueda, Valladolid, Spain
Phone: +34 983 86 80 97

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