About Thabuca Wine Tours

About Us

Our Story

Carol Gutiérrez - CEO & Founder





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 travel and hospitality industry for 30 years.

I was born in Catalonia and have lived in different places in Spain and Europe. 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 find and 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 in the North of Spain 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…

  • 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. As a traveler myself, I really know what a traveler needs when visiting a new country.


  • I love cooking and sharing wine and food with my family and friends
  • Another of my passions is writting. I write my own travel blog and on different travel publications.


  • I love 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 connect with people from all around the world.

We connect curious travelers and discerning wine lovers with local small wineries off the-beaten track

Our Mission

We believe that travel is about immersing yourself in local culture. We support local community, independent and family-run companies. Although we are happy to collaborate with big and famous wineries, we have a special love for small producers. Real hidden gems with amazing wines and lots of extraordinary stories to share. Wine and food have the power to bring people together, create connections, trigger the emotions and help us celebrate life. We understand wine as a way of life, as an expression of our land transmitted from generation to generation. Wine is the way to transmit our history. Our culture and unique personality. Our main goal is to share the essence and uniqueness of our land with travelers and wine lovers from all over the world looking for authentic and local experiences. Caring about all details that makes a travel a life time memory.

The Team

Elena Santamaría

Guide and Curator

Elena was born in Guipúzcoa, the smallest 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.

Gentzane López

Gentzane was born and raised in Bilbao. Her passion for travelling motivated her to study Tourism Degree in the University of Deusto and she made her training in the tourist information office in Bilbao.
She has always liked the cultural diversity and that is why she decided to study the Master of Arts in Euroculture in San Sebastian, focused on the integration and the different cultural identities in Europe. She is passionate about ecotourism and responsible travel.
She has lived in different areas of Basque Country but since 2010 she moved to Rioja region where she has her home now.
Gentzane  loves her job as a guide as she can combine some of her main interests: interaction with people, wine, art and the respect for our environment.
She loves music and TV series that hook you on. But she also enjoys nature walking with her dog and loves improving her creativity with different handcraftings. She makes lovely craft jewelry!

Esther Vazquez


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!

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 curators 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 and create extraordinary wine experiences.

As 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 a fully licensed  travel agency. 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

We offer

How we do

With 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.

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.

Our tours are focused to

Working, a pleasure

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: 

  • Safe Tourism Certified
  • Responsible Tourism
  • Commitment to Tourism Quality
  • Best Practice in ICT


Responsible Tourism

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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