Last Saturday we went to enjoy a wine tour of the Penedes region just an hour away from Barcelona, it is a must see for anyone who has an appreciation of wine and its accompanying history.
It was the “dia de Nevada” (day of the snow). The first time snow had settled in Barcelona for 3 years so it made this occasion even more special.
We set off from plaza Catalunya at a disturbingly early time of 8.45 on a Saturday morning. Some of us wished we had stayed in bed and perhaps some had not even been to bed yet!!
The 1 hour train ride to Villafranca was a pleasant affair, as we observed snow topped trees and cars covered in blankets of pure white I wondered how we were going to be able to visit any wineries in such extreme weather.
On arrival at the train station we were met by our smiling, knowledgeable guide who promptly invited us all to warm up with a morning coffee and croissant in a local bar known to be the birthplace of the most famous wine producer in the world Miguel Torres.
With over 150 wineries in the region how were we going to know which ones to visit? Our wine expert used the coffee break as an opportunity to determine our collective knowledge of wine. Once satisfied that we were keen novices with developing pallets he made some phone calls and within 10 minutes we were on our way.
The temperature was already beginning to rise and we could see the snow melting as the day progressed, we were told that they have no more that 3 days bad weather a year in the Penedes and we had just witnessed one of them.
Our first stop was in the town of Villafranca, where we observed some of the local customs and traditions ranging from chocolate making to the world famous Human Towers. We couldn’t resist buying some freshly made Catalan chocolates for friends and loved ones back in Barcelona.
The first winery offered us a choice of cavas for tasting, our charming guide gave us an elaborate history of the process of cava making and the differences between the brut, brut reserva and semi -sec brands.
We were really treated to a history lesson of the local Catalan history and attitudes and learnt some this about the area that could never be found in the guide books.
In total we visited 2 wineries and by that time we were ready for a feast, but what we got was a banquet fit for a legion. The meal began calmly enough with a light serving of olives, bread and fresh salad from the allotment and wine.It then progressed into the dish of the day for this time of year, the Calçots (spring onions) pronounced Calsots loaded with Romesco sauce. We feasted on these spring onion delights with the inexperience of someone not from the region and hence did not prepare our stomachs for the 3 dishes that were to follow, namely Catalan sausage with beans, artichokes, baked potatoes.
Dessert was also a rather colourful affair with the option of home made flans or Catalan Creme pudding (crema Catalana), naturally dessert was encouraged by some sweet dessert wines for good measure.
By the time we had finished not only was it time to head back and catch one of the regular trains back to Barcelona, but the sun was shining brightly and there was not a single trace of the snow that had been covering the town only a few hours ago.
If you are looking for a VIP tour of the Penedes with a charming, knowledgeable wine expert then this is the best there is and it is perfect for groups as well as individual wine lovers.
To see more photos of this activity see click this link here