The Penedès wine region in northern Spain is the home of cava, Spain’s answer to Champagne. This full-day private guided tour offers you the chance to visit one of the most prestigious and historic wineries in the area, the Codorníu estate. You’ll learn about its history and cava production, and the site’s historic buildings that are now a national monument. The tour also takes in the basilica in nearby Montserrat, one of Spain’s most important pilgrimage sites. Set halfway up a steep mountainside and against a backdrop of craggy rock pinnacles, the monastery affords sweeping views down over the Catalan countryside to the plains below.
Departing from your Barcelona hotel with your driver and guide, you head through the Catalan countryside to the Penedès wine region, which is renowned for its fine sparkling wine. The wines here are fermented in underground cellars or caves, which in turn gave the sparkling wine its name. Cava is produced in a very similar way to the Champagnes of France and boasts its own Denominación de Origen (DO) status.
One of the very first producers of cava was Josep Raventós Fatjó of the Codorníu Winery, who began production in 1872. Today, Codorníu is still one of the most important cava exporters, and the parabolic curves of the Modernista main building has led to it being christened the ‘wine cathedral’. Designed in 1895 by the Art Nouveau architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch (a contemporary of Gaudí), it has been declared a Historical Artistic Monument for its design.
Once you arrive at the winery, you join a small group tour that explains the history of the winery itself, of cava production in the region, and the processes that go into making this sparkling wine. You’ll tour the extensive underground cellars before finishing with a tasting of Codorníu’s Anna range of cavas.
After your tour of the Codorníu estate, you’ll head up into the hills to enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant with panoramic views across to Montserrat Monastery. A reservation will have been made for you, but the cost of lunch isn’t included in the tour.
After lunch, your guide will take you up the winding road to Montserrat, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Spain for hundreds of years. The mountain rises to 1,235 m (4,051 ft) and is the highest point in the Catalan lowlands, its peak a cluster of limestone pillars eroded into dramatic shapes.
The monastery here was first established in the 11th century, after local shepherds were said to have had a vision of the Virgin Mary. The basilica complex with its white marble and gold-encrusted interior dates from the 16th-century and is home to a particularly revered 12th-century Romanesque carving known as La Moreneta, or the Black Virgin.
After you’ve had some time to walk around the basilica and admire the views down the mountain to the plains, your guide will take you back to your hotel in Barcelona.