The wine country of Penedès, located less than an hour from Barcelona, is one of the most exciting wine regions in Spain and a tour here is a must for wine lovers visiting La Ciudad Condal. A wide range of wine styles are produced here, including the Traditional Method (sparkling) white and rosé Cava (made with the indigenous grapes of Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada), dry reds, dry whites, and dessert whites. Winemaking in the region, as in the rest of Spain, dates back millennia, and the Ancient Romans have left many vestiges of their wine production here (some of which you can see in the little wine museum in Vilafranca del Penedès, one of the principal wine villages along with Sant Sadurni d´Anoia). Penedès is a fascinating region steeped in history and renowned for its “Modernista” (similar to Art Nouveau) architecture from the likes of geniuses such as Gaudi, Cadalfach, and Domenech I Montaner.
Many internationally famous brands and important wineries are located in the Penedès, such as Miguel Torres and Jean Leon. Torres is one of the Spanish trailblazers of the Modern Spanish industry and is responsible for groundbreaking research on the Catalan grape varietals. Excellent Boutique Cava companies include Raventos Blanc, Gramona, and Pares Balta, while Freixenet and Codorniu are the two largest Cava companies (both have exceptionally beautiful wine cellars dating to the 1800s). A tremendous amount of grape varietals are grown here. Grapes used for Cava include Macabeo, Xarel.lo, Parellada, Chardonnay, and Malvasía Riojana. For dry whites, these same grapes are used (especially Xarel.lo as a single varietal wine), Muscat and Malvasia, and foreign varietals like Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and Muscat de Frontignan. Red wines are made with Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Samsó and Monastrell, many in single varietal wines which is a recent trend.
The wine region of Penedès is subdivided into various zones including Baix-Penedes (Lower Penedès, where Vilafranca del Penedès is the main village); Mitja- Penedès (Middle Penedès, the main production area with unspoiled vineyard scenery) and Alt-Penedès (High Penedès, which indeed is at the highest altitude, at about 800 meters). The majority of the wineries we work with are located in the Alt Penedès as this is where most of the fine wine is made. The soil types across all three sub-regions are fairly similar with limestone, sand, and clay all present. The climate is Mediterranean and mild with an average year-round temperature of about 60 degrees F. The Tramontana wind blows in from France in winter but is subdued by the Montserrat mountains which rise majestically above the wine country. With such a wide range of terrains, the Penedès is full of microclimates which the talented winemakers take advantage of to produce such high quality and varied wines.