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IWINETC 2016: Visiting DO Penedes in Catalonia

Posted: Tuesday, 07 June 2016 10:35


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IWINETC 2016: Visiting DO Penedes in Catalonia

June 07: Catalonia is designated as an autonomous region of Spain with 4 provinces including its capital Barcelona where the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) was held in April 2016, and it has 12 wine regions- one DOQ (Priorat) and 11 DOs, writes Subhash Arora who visited three of the appellations including DO Penedes and DO Empordà and a few wineries in the regions after the Conference and covers DO Penedes in this Part 1 of the 2-part series

Click For Large ViewAlella, Conca de Barberà, Costers del Segre, Empordà, Montsant, Pla de Bages, Tarragona, Terra Alta, Penedès are the 9 DOs-Denominacion d'Origen. Additionally, Priorat is Denominacion d'Origen Qualificada .The Catalunya (Catalonia) DO is a generic appellation that covers the entire region for wines that do not fall under any other DO designation.

If you find this confusing, wait; that’s not all! The world-famous Cava is also produced in Penedes but under DO Cava, though not exclusively-95% of Cava is produced within Penedes. Similarly,  Montsant DO was formed in 2001 to distinguish from the wines of the greater Tarragona DO. DO Map of Catalonia

DO Alella

Alella is the smallest DO with only 9 wineries, as a part of the DO( Being close to Barcelona, the vineyard cultivation is shrinking in size due to the urbanisation of land even though the area under classification has been increased. I had made my arrangements to visit the Alta Alella winery, which is around 22 Kms North of Barcelona. Undoubtedly, it should be on the list of every wine tourist to Barcelona, especially when they have shortage of wine and would love to visit a premium winery close to the city. They make both, premium DO Cava wines and DO Alella still wines. For details, visit my earlier Article: IWINETC 2016: Premium Cavas and Still Wines of Alta Alella

Visit DO Penedès    

Click For Large ViewWhen you think of DO Penedes, the first thought goes to Torres, the giant of the region in Vilafranca, and Sant Sadurni. This is because the more powerful and predominant constituent of the DO is DO Cava which is located within this appellation-or at least about 95% of it. The rest is spread in 8 other regions of Spain, where they follow the rules of making DO Cava. For a relevant article, visit:
IWINETC 2016: Cava –The ‘Champagne’ of Spain


Codorniu is the oldest Cava bodega, introducing the Traditional Method to produce sparkling wine in 1872, and claims to be the second largest producer of the Spanish bubbly with over 40-45 million bottles sales annually. It lobbied hard with the regulators to include Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the production of Cava. It has the most modern installations and the latest equipment. The whole winery has been so beautifully designed that it was declared a National Monument of Historical and Artistic Interest by King Juan Carlos I.

This was the first winery to be visited for the DO Penedes trip and is known for making some excellent top end Cavas as well as the bubblies selling in high volumes.

Click For Large ViewThe visit focused more on the grandeur of the property rather than tasting different wines or highlighting superiority of some of the Cavas; it featured the aristocratic foundation and the impressive building and structure that has won many kudos and recognitions for the Bodega, including the UN Heritage recognition for the edifice. The tour culminated at the historical villa, perhaps the original residence of the owners. The same label of quality Cava was served in plenty and with snacks till we were ready to leave, thus losing an important tasting opportunity as we had enjoyed on a visit to Freixenet a couple of days earlier.

Raventos i Blanc

It was interesting to see the Cava Bodega of Raventos i Blanc-right across Codorniu.The proprietors of both the bodegas share a common lineage but the Raventos side of the Codorniu-Raventos family separated to set up an independent winery, ostensibly keeping vineyards considered better for grapes for the sparkling wine. In 2013, the winery producing high quality Cavas, seceded from DO Cava and formed an independent appellation. An interesting interlude while waiting in the coach to depart!

Sojourn at Sitges

Click For Large ViewFrom Sant Sadurni we rode south for about 35 Kms, a significant portion through winding road and along the coastline, to reach the beautiful coastal town of Sitges- a Mediterranean town located in the province of Barcelona. Sheltered by the Garraf Mountains and due to its geographical position in the Mediterranean, Sitges is considered to have a warm micro-climate that makes it possible to enjoy outdoor activities almost every day of the year.

We stayed at Hotel Calipolis, right on the sea-front (, with a balcony in each room giving a beautiful view of the ocean. Though it was off season, the construction Click For Large Viewof hotels around and the gentle breeze from the ocean with a beautiful sea-front was a clear indication that it is a crowded tourist town in summer and worth a visit. Many bars and entertainment areas adorned both sides of our hotel which is nicely located in the middle. We were told that this captivating town had sunshine for over 300 days, making it a beautiful holiday spot.

On the way I had been wondering if the beaches and coastal road scenes in the Bollywood movie ‘ Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ were shot on this stretch or the one north of Barcelona that we would be visiting in a couple of days later. It turned out that it was shot near the beach town of Lloret de Mar with nudist beaches in the southern Costa Brava, 75 km north of Barcelona and 30 km south of Girona which we visited a couple of days later.

CIC Fassina 

Click For Large ViewNext morning, after a brisk walk on the beach in Sitges we were driven back to downtown Sant Sadurni where we climbed a charming but steep street for around 300 meters to a fascinating new structure-the museum of Penedes called CIC Fassina. The Cava Interpretation Centre (CIC) is only 2-3 years old and is located in an old distillery built in 1814. This is a must-visit museum for anyone wanting to know anything about Cava and is a perfect starting point for new visitors to Sant Sadurni d'Anoia to visit the Cava bodegas.

Click For Large ViewIt has a mix of high-tech and traditional resources to provide visitors with an introduction to the world of Cava, the origins of this sparkling wine, its history, its production process and grape varieties allowed to be used. There are digitally interactive tools for visitors of all ages to familiarise themselves at their own pace. There are a couple of very interesting and artistically presented audio visual programmes. Similarly, there is a small show screening  about Phylloxera that Click For Large Viewdestroyed the cava vineyards and one can imbibe all there is to learn by visiting the special interactive section through touch tables and an augmented reality game of the phylloxera insect. It might have been a dreaded plant disease once after it destroyed the Cava vines in the late 1800s, but now the town people celebrate a Click For Large Viewcommemorative festival every year, dressed as the louse, wearing yellow clothes and forming a procession.

At a nominal maximum charge of €6 one can easily spend a couple of hours or more-even learn the location and basics of all the cava bodegas in town through the tourist office located inside the CIC- and even get to taste a glass of Cava at the end of the visit. Tours are held every day of the week at fixed timings (visit their website for details) and are the best value for your money. What’s more, you can combine the visit with a Cava bodega visit and buy discounted tickets. Visit their website or write to for reservations

Visit to Bodega Miguel Torres

Click For Large ViewFrom the CIC, we rode to Bodega Miguel Torres in Vilafranca de Penedes-about 30 mins away.  Ever since its origins in 1870, Bodegas Torres has combined tradition and innovation to become a benchmark company in the quality wine and brandies sector, spreading its wings in other parts of Spain, USA and Chile. Their commitment to the land, people and keeping up with nature-for instance global warming and climate change and passion for spreading wine culture, has been the main value of Bodegas Torres. The company is now being run by Miguel Torres Jr. under the tutelage of the senior Torres who has been gradually weaning himself away. Torres is being imported in India through a JV with Torres-Prestige Wines and Spirits. Therefore the visit also has a connect with the Indian visitors.  

Click For Large ViewNo visit by a wine lover to Barcelona can be considered complete without a tour of Bodega Miguel Torres (the Cava lovers would do well to visit at least Freixenet, Codorniu and CIC as they have been designed very well for visits by wine tourists). Complete with a Visitor Center that has a plush AV presentation auditorium, a wine museum, a wine shop where you can pick up wines from the complete Torres range, accessories and souvenirs, the visit ends with wine tasting. The highlight of the trip is the ride through the vineyard and the winery in a battery operated train which has been the first of its kind deployed in the European Union, another step by Torres towards environment protection.

For details, visit

Lunch at Restaurant Sant Jordi Ca la Katy

Click For Large ViewLocated in Sant Martí Sarroca, this family restaurant is barely 15 minutes away from Torres and greets you with all its rural trappings, fresh and excellent food with a Cellar specialising in the local, traditional cuisine; Penedès roast duck with prunes and pine nuts, and special Penedès chicken are its specialities. The wine menu offers a broad range of Penedès wines Click For Large Viewand Cavas from DO Penedes and especially Torres wines. It was a delightful afternoon spent at the restaurant with everyone in a good mood after a couple of glasses of wine. The manager, chef and the owner joined in the bonhomie later. If you visit Torres and are looking for a nice, relaxed lunch at a reasonable price, this is the restaurant to go to. 

Click For Large ViewBye DO Penedes, Hi DO Empordà

After a leisurely lunch, we moved on to the second phase of our discovery journey- Costa Brava. A good 2-hour drive from here we were transported north to Platja d'Aro, a small Click For Large Viewbeach town in Costa Brava where a memorable wine tourism experience awaited us in DO Empordà. ;, starting from the night halt at Hotel NM Suites ( This was a hotel divided in two separate blocks-not a very pleasant experience carting bags to the room through the rain that welcomed us for a while. Apparently, it is a very popular hotel with tourists during season time though and one cannot find a room unless booked well in advance. Located barely a street away from the Promenade in front of the ocean, one can imagine tourists flocking to the hotel and this small tourist town in Costa Brava.

More information of wine tourism in Catalonia in

Subhash Arora

DO Map of Catalonia


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Tags: Catalonia, Spain, Barcelona, International Wine Tourism Conference, IWINETC, Alella, Empordà, Penedès, Denominacion d'Origen, Priorat, Denominacion d'Origen Qualificada, Catalunya, Cava, Alta Alella, Torres, Vilafranca, Sant Sadurni, DO Cava, Codorniu, Bodega, Freixenet, Cava Bodega, Raventos i Blanc, Sitges, Hotel Calipolis, CIC Fassina, Cava Interpretation Centre, Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, Bodega Miguel Torres, Vilafranca de Penedes, Bodegas Torres, Miguel Torres Jr, Prestige Wines and Spirits, Sant Jordi Ca la Katy, Sant Martí Sarroca, Costa Brava, Platja d'Aro, DO Empordà


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