About Us

Our Story

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Carol Gutiérrez - CEO & Founder

 

 

 

Welcome to my home, the magic wine country! 

I’m the CEO & Founder in Thabuca. I hold a degree in Tourism Management and Hospitality. Not only do I love my job; I’m absolutely passionate about tourism and travel. I have been in the tourism and hospitality industry for more than 25 years.

I was born in Catalonia and have lived in different places in Spain and Europe such as Ireland or Germany. In 1998, during an unexpected trip, I came to Rioja and I totally felt in love with this region and its wines (and also with my husband today, a local winemaker…) and decided to establish in Rioja and have lived here ever since.

After doing some professional wine trainings and working as a freelance local guide and translator at some wineries during my first years in Rioja, I recognized the region’s needs for a wine tour operator. It was difficult for visitors to discover the real Rioja, to book at the best wineries, to find transportation, to tour the region, to feel the authentic essence of the wine country… And I founded Thabuca Wine Tours in 2002 and specialized in wine and gastronomic tourism to help travelers from all over the world to design their dreamed and unique wine trips in Rioja.

This way, I established the first wine touring company in Rioja and was one of the pioneers of wine tourism in Spain. I needed to share with other travelers the magic of this region, all the wonderful stories behind each wine. The happinness, pride and enthusiasm that winemakers and local people feel about its land, its wines, its culture and history. So many stories and experiences to be shared…

My passion for wine and food brings me to a permanent learning about wine and gastronomy trends around the world.

I’m an avid globertrotter & travel addict. Since very young, I have traveled to around 60 countries and I’m always dreaming on my next destination. I’m always looking for new experiences to enjoy local food (and wines, when posible) and local culture at the places I travel to. Another of my passions is writting. I write my own travel blog and on different travel publications. So, as a traveler myself, I really know what a traveler is looking for when visiting a new country.

I love interacting, comunnicating and connecting with people. And having good conversations (much better with a glass of good wine). Maybe this is the reason why I speak 7 languages, which also includes Basque. Speaking languages helps me to approach people.

Our Mission

We believe that wine and food has the power to bring people together, create connections, trigger the emotions and help us cellebrate life. Our main goal is to share the essence and uniqueness of Rioja with travelers from all over the world looking for authentic and local experiences, caring about all details that makes a travel a lifetime memory.

The Team

Elena Santamaría

Guide and Curator

Elena was born in Guipúzcoa, the smallest Spanish province in the Basque Country. She spent long seasons in Rioja since she was a little girl as her grandparents were from a little town in  Rioja. Since she was young she felt the need of expanding her horizons outside her hometown, Eibar. She was interested in languages from very early age and started with French, our neighbours. As soon as she could, she travelled to France and spent some time there learning the language. As it could be no other way, she studied tourism in San Sebastián. When she finished she moved to London to improve her English to look for professional opportunities and dive into other cultures, nothing like London such a multicultural city.

After 8 years, she came back to her native Guipúzcoa and settle in San Sebastián attracted by the sea and its natural beauty. There she had several jobs related to the tourism but her native roots brought her to this land which sounds like wine: “Rioja” where she lives from several years ago. She specialized in her great passion wine and gastronomy and since then her aim is to show our visitors in Rioja the hidden secrets of our land. Her maximum reward is to know that our visitors had a good time, enjoyed all we have to offer and kept unforgettable memories for the rest of their lives.

She loves walking the family dog, “Konan”, along the beautiful  vineyards of Rioja. And of course not to forget cooking for her family and friends. She is a fantastic cook,  always looking for the best dish. Her neighbours (and all of us at the office too) love the finger liking good homemade quince jelly she makes.

Marta Morales

Guide and Curator

Marta was born in Vitoria, the capital of the Basque Country and 30 minutes from Rioja. She studied Fine Arts in Bilbao and got an Erasmus scholarship that took her to know the Scandinavian countries. She lived 6 months in Oslo, Norway and 6 months in Oulu, Finland, where she met the wonders of other places and their people and she was able to strengthen the English language she had studied since she was a little girl. Later she moved to Barcelona to expand studies and opted for Fashion Design and Art Therapy. She is the artist of the team!

The pleasure for wine and the love for Rioja is something that she has been living in her family for years. So, after  some years working in the art and fashion industry, she decided to change her life and started focusing more on gastronomy and wine on a more professional way. She is a passionate about both food and wine. She thinks they make the ideal couple and in our region we can boast without hesitation both of them.

One day, destiny brought her to live in Labastida, in the heart of Rioja, where she has her home and work today.  She finds her job as a tourist guide in Rioja is exciting and her passion is extremely contagious to all our guests.

She loves going for walks along vineyards with her dog “Lua”, a restless black Labrador,  and see the creation of wine from its most elementary begining, the bud in the vine, until you see the elegant bunches hanging at the time of going to be picked. It is a beauty.

Esther Vazquez

Guide

Esther was born and raised in an industrial town near Bilbao but for family reasons she moved to San Sebastian 23 years ago and she felt in love with the city since the very first moment she arrived there. She learnt English in the USA where she studied and lived for one year as an exchange student. After coming back to the Basque Country she started to work as a Bilingual Assistant Manager in some companies in Bilbao area. In 1996, already living in San Sebastian, she passed the official exam to become a Sworn Translator/Interpreter of English, and from that moment on she started to combine translation/interpretation work with her job as tourist guide in San Sebastian.

She really loves her  job which gives her the opportnity to show San Sebastian and the rest of the Basque Country as an insider to people from all over the world interested in discovering the traditions, culture and gastronomy of our homeland. Of course, gastronomy is one of the highlights in any visit to the Basque region and she loves showing our guests the best places for pintxos, traditional and innovative food, cider houses and, of course, the best wines to pair with such great food!

Susana Sáez de L.

Guide

Susana was born in Bilbao. She spent all her childness and adolescence in Bilbao, city she is deeply in love. She is a supporter of Athletic de Bilbao Football Team, Bilbao Basketball Team and also a member of the Guggenheim Museum Friends Club. A proud “bilbaina”! After finishing her Tourism degree at Deusto University in Bilbao she started working  in Tourism sector and  traveling. After living in Berlín, Catalunya and Tanzania, she settled in Rioja Alavesa where she  spent 5 nice years, discovering the world of wine, working as a guide in Rioja and bringing lots of laughs to our office. It changed her life forever. In 2010 she  gave birth to her daughter and she returned to Bilbao with her suitecase full of experiences, life lessons and love for Rioja.

Nowadays, she is the host  in Bilbao for our guests visiting that city and its surroundings, and  showing  the best  that this fascinating city has to offer to travelers coming to her hometown from any part of the world with the aim to enjoy a unique area because of its landscapes, its culture, its cuisine, its wines, and, above all, its people

horizons outside her hometown, Eibar. She was interested in languages from very early age and started with French, our neighbours. As soon as she could, she travelled to France and spent some time there learning the language. As it could be no other way, she studied tourism in San Sebastián. When she finished she moved to London to improve her English to look for professional opportunities and dive into other cultures, nothing like London such a multicultural city.

After 8 years, she came back to her native Guipúzcoa and settle in San Sebastián attracted by the sea and its natural beauty. There she had several jobs related to the tourism but her native roots brought her to this land which sounds like wine: “Rioja” where she lives from several years ago. She specialized in her great passion wine and gastronomy and since then her aim is to show our visitors in Rioja the hidden secrets of our land. Her maximum reward is to know that our visitors had a good time, enjoyed all we have to offer and kept unforgettable memories for the rest of their lives.

She loves walking the family dog, “Konan”, along the beautiful  vineyards of Rioja. And of course not to forget cooking for her family and friends. She is a fantastic cook,  always looking for the best dish. Her neighbours (and all of us at the office too) love the finger liking good homemade quince jelly she makes.

Our company

Thabuca Wine Tours is a DMC and local boutique tour operator located in Rioja Alavesa (the Basque side of Rioja) and specialized in private and luxury wine tours and gourmet experiences in Rioja and Basque Country.

Pioneers in wine tourism in Spain, we have been operating since 2002, designing unique wine tours and food experiences for travelers from all around the world.

We are a small local company but with big passion and desire to share with you all our region has to offer.

Thabuca began because a passion for our land, its food and wine, a love to travel and an enthusiam to introduce other travelers the real and authentic Rioja without overlooking quality and personalized service.

We are a team of experienced travel agents and professional local guides in several languages with a deep knowledge of the region and passionate about wine, providing you fascinating insights into the present and past of Rioja wine region.

We run the tours, select the best providers andd create extraordinary wine experiences.

At the very first wine tours company founded in Rioja, we have a wide network of prestigious contacts and cultivate relationships with most of the wineries in Rioja.

We are the only tour operator in Rioja with travel agency license. So we can help you not only organizing your tour in Rioja but also with assistance for your whole trip.

Viñedo en la Rioja Alavesa

In Rioja, we understand wine as a way of life, as an expression of our land. Our wines are more than just great wines. They are bottled stories transmitted from generation to generation. And this is exactly what we want that you experience when traveling to Rioja.

We would love to share with you our local culture.  Our way of life. We want you to feel the uniqueness of our region, the extraordinary stories behind each wine. The history of our towns linked to wine for centuries. The amazing scenery of centenary vineyards that live together with the most innovative avant-garde buildings. The flavors of our great gastronomy.

  • Emotions
  • Happiness
  • Tours for the senses
  • Signature tours
  • A host and a friend in Rioja
  • A highly personalized and tailored service

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Wiith professionalism, quality, know how, expertise, personalized service and passion for our job.

We are locals and know our land inside out. And we are also avid travelers ourselves, so we understand the true needs and wishes you may have when traveling.

  • Wine and food lovers
  • Wine novices, experienced connoisseurs and wine experts
  • Culture, art and architecture fans who want to understand our culture and discover the history of our medieval towns or be amazed by the most outstanding avant-garde architecture
  • Avid travelers keen on local and fascinating experiences

Conmmitted to innovation, quality, tourism excellence and professional skills of our human team.

We are a happy team. We love our job. We love our region. We love our clients that very often become friends.

Staff motivation and participation, a more efficient resources management and the best quality services to our customers are our most important goals.

Our Certified Quality  Management System, involves ongoing professional training programs and different management  and  customer satisfaction protocols.

We are a certified company with official Quality Labels: Commitment to Tourism Quality and Best Practice in ICT.

We have been awarded with Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence every year since 2014 and recognised as a Top Performing Tours Company as Reviewed by Travelers on the World’s Largest Travel Site

We have a commitment with our environment, with a global policy for the protection and respect of nature and with responsible tourism practices.

We are based on social, economic and cultural sustainability criteria.

With sensitivity and respect to our local traditions and its preservation.

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