Brief History of Catalan Wines

Spain is one of the major wine producers in the world and Catalonia, the region where Barcelona is located, has ancient traditions in wine making and distribution. Nowadays this area has one of the highest concentrations of certified wineries in Spain, with a total of 11 designations of origin (DO) and Cava, a landmark among the world’s sparkling wines. We are very glad we can also make you a part of this ancient tradition by taking you on a trip to the ´wine country´ of Alella located just a short drive away from the city center of Barcelona. 

 

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Wine production in Spain dates back to the Phoenicians who inhabited the peninsula more than 3000 years ago and discovered how favorable the warm climate was for wine making. But it was during the geopolitical dominance of the western Roman Empire, that wine making was strongly developed in Catalonia and became one of the region’s main exports for centuries – until the fall of the Roman Empire and arrival of the Moorish rule. 

By the middle ages, the favorable Mediterranean climate combined with the deeply rooted commercial spirit of the local people, made Spanish wines one of the most frequently traded products in the Mediterranean and Northern Africa again. Later on, already in the 19th century, the unfortunate arrival of phylloxera pest in northern Europe devastated the vineyards at mid-century, contributed to the consolidation of the winemaking industry south of the Pyrenees. During this period, many French winemakers settled in the area around Barcelona bringing with them their grape varieties, machinery and methods that boosted Catalan wine making yet again.

 

The transformation of the quality and image of Catalan wines during the last quarter of the 20th century has been truly remarkable.  Catalonia is home to 95% of the country’s total Cava wine production, but the exotic, powerful, warm and mineral-laden wines red and white wines also are made within its borders.

 

In Catalonia, elevation as well as proximity and exposure to the sea became crucial to the wine making methods used here. The vineyards of the area may be fairly moderate and coastal, as in Alella, or remote and mountainous, as in Priorat. 

 

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As summer is slowly coming to an end, heading to the wine country is an excellent plan to enjoy the last rays of summer sunshine and the magnificent views over the Mediterranean Sea. What better way to do that than visit a traditional family ran vineyard and try several international award winning wines. Both our van and sidecar tours include a visit to the estate and tasting of 6 wines – red, white, rosé, sweet and of course, sparkling Cava – all locally produced. 

For more information on our unique wine country tours follow the web links below: