Among all Spanish communities, Catalonia might be the most mysterious and complex of all. It has everything to enchant all sorts of travelers: if you're into adventure, you have the Pyrenees mountains. If you're into food, you have a rich variety of mar i muntanya (sea and mountain) original dishes. If you want art and architecture, you have Picasso, Dalí, Gaudí and a series of Modernist buildings and creations. And, last but not least, in Catalonia lies one of the richest and most interesting wine regions of the world.
Recently, Catalan wine has been attracting the attention of wine connoisseurs from all over the globe, but there is so much to explore that it keeps surprising even the most informed traveler. Within Catalonia there are 12 official denominations of origin (D.O.), or appellation of origin: Empordà, Alella, Pla de Bages, Conca de Barberà, Costers del Segre, Tarragona, Terra Alta, Montsant, Catalunya, Cava, and the well-known Penedès and Priorat.
The last two are arguably the most important, and our main recommendations for travelers who want to explore the wine-making process from its origins. The Penedès, because is the region with the largest range of grape varietals, soil types and microclimates, resulting in an incredibly large spectrum of wines. It's also the region that holds the majority of Cava production (Spain’s sparkling wine). And finally the Priorat wine region, the official D.O.Q (Qualified Denomination of Origin) and home of some of the best-quality wines in the country.
Long considered one of the country’s best wine-producing regions after the Rioja, it is also one of the most ancient viticultural areas in Europe. It is widely acknowledged to be home to the most modern and innovative of Spanish growers - there are hundreds of independent producers. Among Penedès’ traditional white varieties of grapes, Xarel·lo is the finest one. According to archaeological evidence, wine production in the Penedès has ancient origins (some evidences date back to the Phoenician introduction of Chardonnay vines during the 6th century BC). The region is split into three administrative sub-regions: Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès and Garraf. Here are ten fun facts about the Penedes.
What to look for: Can Rafols del Caus, Pares Balta, Albet i Noya
Our recommendation: This is definitely something to be done with an expert. Local producers or tour guides will be able to explain all the region's secrets, the difference between the grapes, the history behind Cava and, most important, will know exactly where to take you - choosing a winery can get tricky as there are so many and the most amazing are normally the less known by Google!
Spanish Trails offers a great day trip to the region: Wines of Catalonia D. O. Penedès
The traditional grape variety grown in El Priorat is Garnacha tinta, which is found in all the older vineyards. The best wines of this region tend to be more concentrated and with a strong character, partly due to the Priorat's harsh growing conditions and generally older vines.
What to look for: Clos Dominic, Clos Figueres, Clos L’Obac
Our recommendation: Go with a guide. Priorat is very difficult to reach from Barcelona, and although the roads are safe, some wineries require local expertise to find. The landscape is one of its highlights, with a golden yellow light that makes for a perfect romantic destination.
For an incredible day trip into the Priorat, visiting 3 exclusive cellars and with a gourmet lunch of fresh, local delicacies, check out Spanish Trails: Wines of Catalunya D. O. Q. Priorat
You can also visit both regions in only one tour. Due to the driving time and the magical atmosphere, the best options for those who have time would be to take a multi day trip and spend a night in one of Catalan's magical wineries. Spanish Trails offers you the option to spend one or two nights, accordingly to your calendar & budget:
Have you thought about bring wine back home from your wine trip? See our products to help you do so!
Spanish Trails is a boutique incoming travel agency that offers intimate, informative and entertaining day tours in Barcelona and around Catalonia. They pride themselves on their ability to provide truly unique and personalized guided tours.
Iasa is a booking agent for Spanish Trails, handles design, promotion and the majority of the social media marketing, and is happy to help our guests prepare the best trip they could possibly have in Catalunya.