Exploring the Wineries of Catalonia

During this weekend, the Voluntariat Lingüístic program at Universitat Pompeu Fabra has brought us to an authentic Catalan winery in the Penedès wine region. One of Voluntariat Lingüístic’s core missions is to introduce and share the Catalonian language and culture with students from outside Catalonia.

Our journey begins in the wineries of Penedès. Coming to the countryside was so refreshing compared to Barcelona. There is so much greenery that stretches for miles. The view is also impressive with Montserrat standing out right on the road. From here, we hiked around the grape farms to reach the winery. Our amazing tour guide taught us about about the fascinating wine history in Catalonia. Catalan wine has been growing in popularity and holds high prestige to its name. However, it has not always been this way. Just a while back, Catalan wine was “unknown” to the world and not seen as high quality. With the lack of recognition, Catalan grape farmers often sold grapes to other wineries instead, to be produced under other names. But soon, the Catalans realized that they actually had high-quality grapes and they could make their own wine instead of selling it under other names.

Fun Fact: A plague caused by the Phylloxera insect wiped out almost all the vineyards in Europe in the late 19th century. Fortunately, American grapevines are resistant to this as Phylloxera is native to the US. In the end, the US was able to save European grapevines by a method of grafting. Where the lower root of American grapevines was used while the upper half of European varieties were grown on top of the root.

After a long hike, we made our way to Vin’s El Cep, a local winery established by 4 families, as noted in their logo. From here, we had a picnic and tasted 3 special wines produced from this local winery. 

We tasted the following, in order:

  • 1st: OT De Vins El Cep Rosat de Terrer, Rose, from 100% Pinot Noir
  • 2nd: OT De Vins El Cep Blanc de Terrer, White, from 100% Xarel•lo
  • 3rd: OT De Vins El Cep Negre de Terrer, Red, from a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon
The white wine was my favorite, from 100% Xarel•lo that is exclusively grown in Catalonia

Now, I want to give a special shoutout to Cava. You might be familiar with the more well-known Champagne. Both Champagne and Cava are produced using the same traditional methods that lead to the bubbly sparkles. However, Champagne can only be Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region in France. Thus, Cava is nearly similar to Champagne but is exclusively produced in Catalonia. For me, Catalonia holds a special place in my heart, and enjoying Cava is a way to show my appreciation. So, next time you are looking for Champagne, I highly recommend you go for a bottle of Cava!

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