High speed ‘Wine Train’ boosts tourism to Castilian vineyards

A high speed train has been put into service to carry passengers from Madrid to Rueda and Ribera del Duero. Barnaby Eales reports.

The wine train
The wine train

A Spanish high-speed train connecting Madrid to Valladolid is boosting wine tourism to the Castilian vineyards of Rueda and Ribera del Duero.

Operating since February, the wine train service is part of an all-inclusive day trip which combines wine tourism with visits to the cultural heritage sites of the region of Castile and León. Wine train tickets include a lunch of Castilian cuisine and tastings at wineries.

“The wine train is drawing a lot of attraction as some journeys between Madrid and Valladolid take just 55 minutes,” said a spokesman from the Valladolid tourist agency. “The growth in popularity of the service means we are now adding a new service this June, which take tourists past the Canal waterways of Castile.”

Passengers travel on high-speed electric Avant trains to Valladolid, located north west of Madrid before travelling onto vineyards. Although the distance between Madrid to Valladolid is more than two hundred kilometres, the train journey takes just an hour. Once aboard the wine train, passengers are entertained with talks and anecdotes about wine and its history including why the Romans toasted before drinking wine. (Clinking of drinking vessels supposedly ensured that wine from one vessel would splash into another; it was an insurance policy against guests poisoning one another.)

Upon their arrival in Valladolid, passengers travel by coach to visit castles and monuments and vineyards in the surrounding wine appellations of the city. Tourists can choose day trips to the Castilian wine appellations of Rueda, Ribera del Duero, Cigales, Toro and Tierra de León.

Wine train passengers can also download “passports” that function like loyalty cards. If passengers get the passports stamped at each location they visit. Once they have four stamps, they receive a local product for free.

The service runs on the last Saturday of each month until the end of December.

“We have already sold tickets for November – we have found that there is demand all year round and not only in the spring and summer,” the spokesman said.

Tickets cost €99 for adults and €79 for children.

The service is jointly run by Renfe, the country’s rail operator, and local tourist authorities in Valladolid. This is the second year it has run.

Barnaby Eales

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