Many people visit Barcelona, the city that’s the capitol of Catalan culture here in Northern Spain, but it seems that relatively few ever make it to the wine country just an hour outside the city. I’ve barely been here for 24 hours in Vilafranca del Penedes and have learned all kinds of things already. Burbujes – which means bubbles – is my favorite new word in Spanish. And the Casa Torner I Guell in central Vilafranca is a very beautiful and modern hotel in the Mercer Group that just needs guests to fill it up.
Vilafranca is a town that’s in the cava region, but it’s actually the center of still wine production as well. The architecture here is a mix of modern and gothic and the town’s streets are lined with interesting little shops and of course wine bars.
Yesterday afternoon, I met with Maria Del Mar Torres who runs the Institut del Cava and Luis Vallespin of the Consell Regulador de Cava. The Institut is a membership organization made up of 70 cava producers while the Consell is a government organization that oversees cava production, registering vineyards, controlling yields, and setting standards for alcohol levels and labeling.
I’ll be meeting winemakers and learning the stories behind a dozen wineries, as well as tasting lots of different styles of cava and Catalan food, so stay tuned.