A denomination of origin usually corresponds to a delimited part of territorial area. However, this is not the case of Costers del Segre, which includes the whole of the province of Lleida and is divided into six sub-zones extending from Artesa de Segre to El Pallars Jussà. Hence there is a wide range of wines produced in different wineries, such as Castell del Remei which offers guided tours and Raimat where a wine harvest festival is held every September.
Located north-east of Girona, the Empordà Costa-Brava DO consist of 5.600 hectares of vineyards. Historically it was centered around the ancient Greek city of Empúries, which inherited vine growing and wine making from its original inhabitants. There are several wineries in the area and one of the most traditional and famous is at Castell de Perelada. For making white wines, varieties of Grenache, Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Chardonnay grapes are grown. The most widespread variety used for red wine is Carinyena, though of late the Grenache, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties have became quite important.
Neighbouring El Priorat are the Conca de Barberà, Terra Alta and Tarragona DOs which cover a large area of the Tarragona demarcation. The histories and traditions of all three are closely entwined with wine and variety of viticulture visits can be made, especially to the modernist wineries built by the architect Cèsar Martinell. Several co-operatives created at the beginning of the 20th century in La Conca de Barberà have wineries of this type, such as the Pira, Montblanc, Barberà de la Conca and Rocafort de Queralt co-operatives. Just to the south lies the Tarragona DO where one can visit the Muller winery in Reus and the Tous Andreu winery in Pont d’Armentera close to the Santes Creus Monastery. Also nearby I s the Celler de Nulles, a winery built by Cèsar Martinell, as well as the Granja Montalà wine museum in Valls. Then there is the Terra Alta DO consisting of seventeen municipalities and in which its capital, Gandesa, has a leading role. Indeed it is in Gandesa that one can visit the Modernist winery also built by modernist architect Cèsar Martinell. The same architect designed the Pinell de Brai co-operative, nicknamed “the wine cathedral”.
The wines from the Priorat DOQ (Qualified Denomination of Origin) and the Montsant DO are increasingly well-known, and their reputation and quality have already made their mark abroad. Wine experts from around the world come to visit to find out the reason for their high quality. On a trip through the Priorat DOQ a must-see are the Cartoixa d’Scala Dei ruins at the foot of the Montsant mountain range. In the Montsant DO, which covers part of El Priorat and La Ribera d’Ebre, a visit to the Capçanes winery, where among other high quality wines kosher wine is made in accordance with Jewish tradition, is highly recommended. The Priorat Tourism Bureau offers visits to thirteen wineries belonging to the two denominations of origin.
There are areas in addition to El Penedès that have strong wine making traditions. A good example is El Pla de Bages DO, which has won international awards in recent years. There are wineries that offer tours, such as the Celler Cooperatiu d’Artés, the Masies d’Avinyó winery in Santa Maria d’Horta d’Avinyó, and the Jaume Andreu winery. An excursion through the area will also show visitors the old vineyard huts - small, simple stone structures that were used by local peasant farmers to store their tools. The administrative headquarters of the DO Regulating Council is the Casa de la Culla in Manresa, an old farmhouse where wine tasting courses are also given. Mareseme is home to the Alella DO, the smallest denomination area in Catalonia. The Can Magarola farmhouse in Alella is the administrative headquarters of the DO and also houses a wine museum.
At many wine making centres in the Penedès DO visitors can learn about what happens to the grapes from when they arrive at the winery to when they are made into wine. Many of these centres are featured in the Wine and Cava Routes, a network of itineraries that are part of the wine tourism project of the Alt Penedès Consortium for the Promotion of Tourism. Other wine tourism options include staying in rural tourism houses on estates where wine is made or visiting the two information centres that are in the area: the Vineyard and Wine Workshop (l’Aula de la Vinya i el Vi) in Sant Pere Molanta, and the Wine Museum (Museu del Vi) in Vilafranca del Penedès.
During this day or evening lesson led by upcoming young chef Jordi Herrera, you'll learn to prepare a menu of dishes, including a gin, tonic and liquid nitrogen aperitif, meat cooked using hot nails and quirky chocolate desserts. Tuition in wine matching is also covered.
· Ocio Vital (0034 93 317 1909, foodwinetours.com). One-day course €65pp. The four-night course includes accommodation, trips to cellars and producers, and meals and costs €1,000pp.