My favorite time to travel to wine regions is the spring; its not too hot, not too cold, and not too frenetic such as around harvest. Airfares and hotels are reasonable and winemakers have time to meet with you. There are other interesting things that go on around springtime that you might never expect.
The first time my friend and I visited Rioja in the spring, my friend looked up and asked what those gigantic birds were on the roofs of the buildings. Being a New Yorker, I glanced up and with the gravest certainty and without hesitation told her “oh, they’re just mechanical birds to scare away the pigeons.” It wasn’t until the following day when a large shadow passed above and I looked up to see Rodan that I realized I could be wrong. It was really a monstrously large bird with a huge wingspan (to me anyway). After a few inquiries we confirmed that they were real live storks, hundreds of them, returning to Haro, mostly to Alfaro in Rioja Baja, to nest. The nests, made of branches, not just twigs, seemed to perch precariously on the steeples of the gothic churches in Alfaro. For someone whose only concept of a stork comes from the label of a pickle jar, it was a sight to behold.