Omni Escapes Magazine Escapes Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 29

on everything from history and religion to fossils and contemporary art line the medieval stone streets. “Rioja is such a blend of old and new,” says Dhane Chesson, national accounts director for Wines from Rioja, which has partnered with Omni Hotels & Resorts for this year’s Flavors of the World culinary program. “There’s such a juxtaposition if you look at the archi- tecture. There’s an old, family-owned restaurant where the mother is still cooking right down the street from a Michelin-rated restaurant.” According to Chesson, Rioja’s people are what make a visit to the region truly special. “People plan a trip to Rioja because of the wine,” she says. “But it’s the people and the culture that draw you in. It’s the authenticity and the passion—it engages visi- tors. They want to learn more.” This summer, members of Omni Hotels & Resorts’ food and beverage team ventured to Rioja to prepare for the brand’s Flavors of the World series. Now in its 10th year, the recurring culinary program will highlight the Spanish region from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 with spe- cially crafted dishes and hand-picked wines. By explor- ing the region firsthand, Omni associates were able to bring back the best of their flavorful discoveries to share with guests. FINE WINES According to Wines from Rioja, prestigious varietals have been produced in the region since the early 1100s. Wine production in Rioja became more of an art form in 1787, when the Royal Economic Society of Rioja Growers was created to enhance cultivation. The wines in Rioja continued to improve and eventu- ally earned Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOC), the highest rating from Spain’s quality control system. This is an accomplishment that only one other region has achieved since Rioja became the first in 1925. Rioja produces a variety of wines but is particularly known for having some outstanding reds—especially those made with the tempranillo grape. A black grape variety that creates full-bodied wines, tempranillo has become somewhat of an icon for the area. With a knowledge of the region’s proclivity for red wines, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort Executive and Regional Executive Chef Daven Wardynski says it was actually the region’s whites that blew him away. FA L L 2 0 1 7 OE3-Spain-eV4-e.indd 29 | 29 | The smallest region in Spain, Rioja is the country’s larg est producer of wine. ESCAPES 9/29/17 3:24 PM