we saw our fair share of bodegas (wineries) along the Camino — but only one had a fuente de vino for peregrinos. we left Estella relatively early and got to Irache at the thoroughly-inappropriate-to-drink-wine time of about 8:30 a.m. did that stop us? of course not. we were the first in a wave of peregrinos walking past it, the rest of whom seemed uncertain about whether it was ok (morally or sanitation-wise) to drink wine from a spigot coming out the side of a winery. we took the initiative and tested the non-waters and found the resulting liquid pretty good, especially considering the method in which it was dispensed.
the winery is located at the site of a former monastery that began serving peregrinos in the 10th century. the abbot when the first hospice was constructed, San Veremundo, worked with King Sancho Ramirez to build Irache into one of the richest and strongest abbeys in Navarra. he is also reputed to have donated the vineyards from which Bodegas Irache now harvests its grapes. while the strength of the city didn’t last (due to righting between religious factions), the town recovered enough by 1605 to warrant the relocation of the Benedictine monastery from Sahagun to Irache.
the university operated for two centuries, but closed in 1824; the monastery closed in the 1980s due to a lack of novitiates, a century after it received protection as a national monument. today it houses a museum. the winery opened several decades after the university closed and the fountain began dispensing wine in 1981, a century later, aimed primarily at peregrinos, one would imagine as it’s mere feet from the Camino. if you’re so inclined, you can watch the fuente de vino webcam and see how and whether the peregrinos stop for a sip before continuing along the way to Villamayor du Monjardin and Los Arcos.