Some of you are probably experiencing the winter doldrums, especially if you’re in the United States, England, Germany, Belgium, or any other cold weather location. Sure, it’s been a little chilly this January here in Catalunya, but as I write, it’s currently 15 degrees celsius and sunny. So, here you are sitting at work, starting to dream and plan a few Catalan vineyard visits for the spring, or maybe sooner! Where do you go? Who do you visit? Here’s a few highlights and places we recommend, based on our direct experiences!

Minutes from the beach and Barcelona – Alta Alella

If you’re staying in Barcelona and want to visit somewhere close, Alta Alella is only 20 minutes from Barcelona. I’ve taken the train from Barcelona to El Masnou, and rode a bike from the train station to the winery. It’s a bit of a hill to get up to, but a joy on the way back down.

The view from the offices at Alta Alella. Mediterranean, everywhere.

The view from the offices at Alta Alella. Mediterranean, everywhere.

Alta Alella has a fabulous selection of stills and sparkling. They’re known for their outstanding cavas (their 100% organic Bruel is my favourite), a dynamite Syrah, and hit the international map with their sweet wine, Dolc Mataro. They are geared for enotourists, with a phenomenal tasting room with panoramic views of the Mediterranean, and can set up a picnic for you in the vineyard. They also have a tonne of special events, including dinners, live music, and other pairings.

Languages: Catalan, English, Spanish, French. (Other languages, like Russian and German, available on advance notice)

Website – altaalella.cat
+34 93 469 37 20
enoturisme@altaalella.cat

 

Eat, Drink, and Stay overnight in Priorat — Clos Figueras

Priorat is a magical place, and Gratallops is even more magical, as its the spiritual home of the Priorat wine renaissance. There are oodles of wineries and hotel/restaurants (some of our faves include Sao del Coster, Celler Devinssi, Mas Igneus for wineries plus Cal Llop and Hostal Sport for overnight stays) in the area, but for us the quintessential experience is at Clos Figueras. The visit of the winery is an intimate and spiritual journey where you can see high quality wines produced in smaller batches using organic/biodynamic methods with a super cool barrel room housed in what used to be an underground cistern for the town’s water supply.

Tastings and lunch can be done up here, if you plan well in advance with Miquel, the manager at Clos Figueras.

Tastings and lunch can be done up here, if you plan well in advance with Miquel, the manager at Clos Figueras.

 

Their 16 hectare plot is mere minutes away, and having a picnic lunch under their iconic tree is a definite must. Lunch and dinner at their restaurant is fantabulous, featuring all local products, including succulent lamb, brilliant botifarra, and a chef who makes amazing combinations and creations. You can finish off with an overnight stay in one of their B&B rooms, well appointed with all the necessary amenities and comfort, and sip on a nice bottle of Font de le Figuera red or Font de le Figuera white.

Languages: Catalan, English, Spanish, French. (Other languages available with advance notice)

Website – closfigueras.com
+ 34 97 783 02 17
info@closfigueras.com

 

Experience Cooperativas in DO Emporda and DO Montsant — Cooperativa Garriguella and Celler Masroig

If you’re a history buff and interested in the evolution of the wine business in Catalunya, a visit to a traditional wine cooperative is a must. We recommend two of our favourites Cooperativa Garriguella in the Emporda town of Garriguella, and Celler Masroig in the town of El Masroig in DO Montsant. Garriguella got its start in 1963 after local grape growers rebelled against oppressive families taking advantage of their hard work. Today, Garriguella has an impressive facility, pumping out traditional wine you can load up in jugs, or buy highly rated limited production wines made from indigenous grapes. There’s also a grocery store with local products, and a restaurant where you can probably see all the locals including other winemakers in the area socialising together. Garriguella has one of the most affordable 90+ rated wines in Catalunya, a nice white called Dinarells.

There's more than wine at Cooperativa Garriguella.

There’s more than wine at Cooperativa Garriguella.

At Celler Masroig, you can see a history dating back to 1917, and take an awesome tour through the countryside which includes sampling some olives and almonds along with some highly-rated and tasty wines.  The history you see while touring the basement where wine used to be stored in giant concrete vats, and some pretty cool graffitti left by past employees is worth the visit. We’re fans of their Les Sorts series of wines, red, white and rosat!

Website – cellermasroig.com
+34 97 782 50 26
visites@cellermasroig.com
 
cooperativagarriguella.com
+34 97 253 00 02
info@cooperativagarriguella.com

 

Visit a 14th Century castle near Barcelona – Torre del Veguer

If I could hang out weekly at Torre del Veguer, I certainly would. This place is steeped in history, from the monks who started the building back in the 14th century (with the wine cistern still in place), to the wealthy families who built onto it in the 16th and 17th centuries with underground escape routes to the beach, to the ancestors of the current owners who added a chapel in the 19th century. Torre del Veguer has an awesome barrel room, modern winemaking facilities, and a museum with artifacts dating back to the 14th century. Did we mention the friendship with Dali? Yes, you can read and see items crafted by Dali to the uncle of the current owners of the vineyard, and the president of Torre del Veguer assisted with the repurchase of a huge cache of Dali items from a Japanese collector (including the Grapes of Immortality) by the Dali museum in Figueres.

Torre del Veguer hosts weddings on their ample grounds.

Torre del Veguer hosts weddings on their ample grounds.

Torre del Veguer also does events on its awesome grounds, including corporate events and weddings. My girlfriend is even hinting at a wedding there sometime soon! We’re enamoured with their wines, from the Muscat and Eclectic to their Xarel·lo named after a Dali piece.

Website – torredelveguer.com
+34 93 896 31 90
eventos@torredelveguer.com

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.