A few kilometers outside Estella is the Monasterio de Irache, famous for its continued monastic hospitality of offering water and wine to pilgrims.
Irache may have had Visigothic roots but Benedictines founded the monastery in the 10th century. Irache also became a Benedictine university in 1605 that remained active until the 19th century. Students came here to study medicine, law, philosophy, theology, and letters. The bulk of the surviving monastery dates to the 16th century, but the church maintains some of its 12th century structure.
Approaching Irache is a pleasure, both for the promise of receiving wine (or refreshing water) from its scallop-shell-decorated fountain, as well as for the beauty of the vineyards and forest the pilgrim passes through to arrive there.
The fields and the excellent wine fountain both belong to the nearby winemaker, Bodegas Irache. It reflects beautifully Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at the Marriage Feast at Cana. Unlike Cana, however, where the wine came from a limitless source, at Irache they ask that you limit yourself to just one glass.
The Camino continues to Azqueta, Villamayor de Monjardín, and Los Arcos.