The history of wine is deep and wide in Catalunya, and especially in the Priorat region of Tarragona. For 20 years, the town of Falset has celebrated the wines of the region, hosting a fair which shuts the downtown core to traffic, allowing attendees to mingle and explore the wine, the food, and the culture of Falset. Welcome to Fira del Vi!
This year, Fira del Vi brought together 20 wineries from both DO Monsant and DOQ Priorat on Saturday and Sunday in a great setup across from the Cooperativa Falset. But not only was their wine tastings (for 12€ you receive a beautiful glass, 5 drink tickets, entry into special events/Castell del Vi, and a back to store your glass around your neck), but the entire weekend feature a multitude of events at wineries and towns in the surrounding area.
We wandered the town, taking in lunch at Lotus Priorat (which was outstanding), sampling Catalan regional cheeses, and then *finally* took in the Castell del Vi.
Seeing Castell del Vi has been on our list of things to do since we began the journey of catalunyawine.com, and I’m sorry we took so long to visit. A great gift shop with many books on wines, books on regional history, wines and oils for sale, plus an amazing visual journey through the history of wine in the area. Three floors of information, punctuated by amazing views of the vineyards from the top floor provided more details to the history of which I was not aware. We highly recommend it, especially for the value (normal visits are only 4€ entry fee).
It’s rare to have so many Monsant and Priorat wineries in one location to sample their products, which is why this festival is one you should definitely take in. We enjoyed re-tasting wines from old friends with new vintages — Sao del Coster, Joan Ametller, Celler Masroig — and discovered wineries which we wish to visit soon (Buil & Giné, Ferrer Bobet & Gratavinum in particular).
For the wineries, it also is a great opportunity for them to sell and present their wines. Xavier Barrachina, winemaker and general manager at Sao del Coster, noted their sales this year in the first three hours on Saturday exceeded their entire weekend sales from the previous year. While Xavier equated this to the great job the organisers did in promoting the event, I think it also has to do with how outstanding their 2014 Pim Pam Poom is! We certainly enjoyed the wine on a muggy day, and the crew at Sao del Coster had chilled Pim Pam Poom to make it the perfect wine for the day we were there.
So if you want to attend next year, here’s a couple of recommendations. You need to book your hotel way in advance. There were many people trying to find hotel rooms or B&B rentals in the final two weeks leading up to the event who were forced to find accommodation in either Reus or Tarragona.
Secondly, be sure to visit the firadelvi.org website, as there are many, many events leading up to and after the two days which could turn into a nice five day holiday of wine. The organisation’s website does an excellent job of cataloguing what is going on in the region. In particular, there are evening events at the Castell del Vi, events in Gratallops, and also usually happenings in the town of El Masroig. Lastly, if the weather is as awesome next year as it was this year, bring a hat and gafas del sol.
All in all, Fira del Vi in Falset is officially on our list of yearly events we will be attending in the future. Thanks to all who made our visit a very special time indeed.
Tim Brown (aka Timmer on social media) has been involved in marketing for over 20 years and a wine enthusiast since his first exposure to Duck Pond Winery in Newberg, Oregon, back in 1995. After coming to Europe in 2012, he made his home in Catalunya in 2013 and became enchanted with the wines and winemakers of the region. Now he shares his experiences so international visitors can enjoy the region’s wines, while continuing his work in the marketing world. Sommeliering and wine snobbery isn´t his thing, and he continues to learn more about wine from a Catalan perspective on a daily basis.