Penedes wine region: Explore tours of Catalunya to discover where Spain’s sparkling wine Cava is produced

The Penedes wine region, located less than an hour from Barcelona, is primarily known as the world’s largest producer of Cava – Spain’s sparkling wine incarnation of the champagne from France.

Cava was introduced to Spain by Josep Raventos of the Codorniu winery in 1872 following a reconnaissance mission to France. He returned with the traditional production method, but used Spanish grapes instead. The process involves a secondary fermentation allowing bubbles to form naturally as opposed to being a mere carbonated wine.

And, Catalunya is Cava country – with the Penedes wine region producing 90% of the country’s entire yield from numerous vineyards owned by world famous winemakers including Codorniu, Freixenet and, one of Spain’s most innovative producers, Torres.

Despite the region’s affection for Cava, which was awarded its own Denominación de Origen (D.O.) in 1991, the Penedes wine region also produces a wide variety of other styles including dry reds, dry whites and dessert wines. These are grown across three main sub-regions:

  • Alt-Penedes, which is an inland mountainous region that produces the highest quality yield.
  • Penedes Central to the southwest, responsible for most of the region’s production.
  • Baix Penedes, which is situated in the low-lying, coastal areas.

Penedes is one of the most ancient viticultural regions in Europe, featuring a rural landscape scattered with quaint villages, solitary churches and vineyards upon vineyards growing a wide selection of grapes including Macabeo, Paradella, Xarello, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Subirat grapes.

Given the popularity of Cava in Catalunya, wine tours between Barcelona and the Penedes wine region attract visitors from all around the world – drawn not only by the lure of sparkling wines but by the beauty of the area, which also includes many wineries (bodegas) that are marvels of modern architecture from the likes of Gaudi, Cadalfach and Domenach i Montaner.

At Wine Paths, our local experts can organize a range of exclusive private tours and experiences around the Penedes wine region that can be customized to meet your exact needs.

Among these is the unique opportunity to see the vineyards from the sky with a private helicopter trip across the region overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and romantic mountains of Montserrat before landing for a VIP tour and tasting at one of the finest bodegas.

For those who like to keep their feet on the ground, there is an exclusive guided tour and tasting experience of the Penedes wine region where guests are led through the entire wine making process from the soil to the vine to the barrel and the bottle. Or, you can jump on a bike and explore the region on two wheels.

And, for an even more involved experience, there is an opportunity to make your own cava. Guests are invited to experiment with different coupages, to discover how they act to become perfect blends, before taking part in the ‘disgorgement’ and leaving with their own bottle.

Aside from wines, Penedes offers a host of other activities to enjoy including the region’s long tradition of castellers (human towers); Calafell, a coastal town with magnificent beaches and an open air museum; and the region’s capital Vilafranca del Penedes, a medieval town with charms such as the Royal Palace and gothic Santa Maria church.

Check out Spain's destination guide to read more about the Penedes wine region before planning a tour that will literally be fizzing with wonder and excitement.


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