ESTELLA-LIZARRA – It’s a little different to finding eggs for sale, throwing coins in a bucket and sauntering off with your purchase. However, it’s just as simple a pleasure at two Spanish fountains, and it’s free wine.
Pilgrims who have hiked or cycled the Camino de Santiago from France may know it: the wine fountain halfway between the villages of Estella-Lizarra and Ayegui. Built in 1991 by Bodegas Irache, pilgrims and wine enthusiasts see it as a mandatory stop along the route. Daily the managers of the bodega fill the fountain with 100 litres of their wine which belongs to the D.O. Navarra.
Encouragement for the pilgrim to hang under it for a while or fill his cup comes from the accompanying words. “If you want to reach Santiago with strength and vitality as a pilgrim, take a sip and toast to happiness”. But there’s a warning for anyone who gets too enthusiastic: “Drinking a little is by invitation, but filling empty bottles and taking the wine with you is not possible. Then you have to buy the wine.” Next to the wine is another tap for who wants to fill up their bottle with water.
The Santesteban family, the third owners of the land, placed the Irache wine fountain in 1991. However, the tradition of offering wine to pilgrims is much older, since the monks who originally inhabited the monastery of Santa María la Real de Irache, located next to the wineries, used to offer a drink to the walkers who stopped on their land.
La Palma’s free wine fountain
Another place in Spain where not water but wine flows from a fountain is La Palma. At Fuencaliente on the island, there has been a free wine fountain since 2007. Installed here in honour of winegrowers, by Bodega Llanovid de Tenguía, the intention is encourage passers-by to sip a little and enjoy the area’s wine. The fountain has a capacity of 3,000 litres and the wine is treated to preserve the taste and good qualities in the barrel behind the fountain.