El Penedès, region of Wine and Cava
Located inland between Barcelona and Tarragona, but not far from the Mediterranean, lies the Penedès region, which is renowned for its wine and cava production, making it one of the oldest wine-making areas in the whole of Europe.
Among the multiple things to do in this area is the wide range of wine-tasting tours. Wine and cava lovers can take a specialised tour and for all-rounders, more generalised tours are also available. If you were to choose a guided tour, you will be briefed on the areas you travel through giving you a good geographical and historical understanding of your surroundings before visiting cellars to learn about the wine or cava making processes.
Of course when ‘school’s out’ you will be given a chance to taste some of these delicious wines accompanied in some cases with some traditional food.
Thousands of hectares of vineyards and internationally renowned brands of wine and cava make this area one of the most visited in Catalonia throughout the year. Many buildings, outstanding for their architecture, can be found here, such as those belonging to the cellars of Codorniu and Freixenet and the cooperative of Pinell del Brai, known as the "cathedral". There are also plenty of smaller wineries producing excellent beverages in smaller quantities. Check out our wine and cava experience selection to find out where to start.
Those budding pioneers who would like to explore at their own pace can also take a guide-free tour of the region by bike. The best vineyards in this area and surroundings are located in the Alt and Baix Penedès, el Garraf, el Baix Llobregat and l’Anoia.
The Penedès region is most famous for its white-grape varieties, yet it produces some highly recognised oak-aged reds, which are also bottled here.
Most wineries are located around a "masia", a large traditional Catalan farmhouse. Some of these "masies" have been renovated to provide fantastic accommodation, ideal as a base from which to explore the area.
Vilafranca del Penedès, the capital of the Alt Penedès, is known as the capital of wine and where wine and history enthusiasts alike can enjoy the fantastic wine museum, dedicated to showcasing the traditional wine-making culture and how this has evolved over time. The remains of Iberian and Roman ruins are visible all around this historic town which has been producing wine since ancient times, meaning that there is no better place to experience the wonderful and rich history associated with wine culture.
Like all the towns in this area, Vilafranca also celebrates a summer festival or Festa Major. One of the most long-standing traditions of this festival is the building of impressive Castells, or human towers. This ancient tradition has been declared by UNESCO to be amongst the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and is simply a must for any travellers in town in the summer time.
Cava, a sparkling wine of Denominació d'Origen (DO) status, goes hand in hand with the Penedès region. In fact about 95% of all cava is produced in this region and this industry is predominantly responsible for the booming success of the area as a force in wine-exportation and creating revenues. Cava is made using different varieties of white and red grape and results can be slightly different each year, but the sun and soil, together with the Mediterranean weather in this region, are the main factors for cava’s unique taste. Cava is an important part of Catalan family culture and to be enjoyed at its best it should be drunk chilled.
A visit to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, known as the capital of cava, is highly recommended during the harvest in September. Some of the cellars and the town itself boast beautiful examples of modernism architecture.
We suggest you visit Montserrat as well. Montserrat is a mountain, a Natural Park and home of a stunning Benedictine monastery and monk retreat which is a mecca for Catholic pilgrims and travellers alike in Catalonia. Montserrat is an absolute must-see for anyone who enjoys breath-taking scenery, history or religion.