Traveling from Rioja to Penedes, the main wine region for Cava production gave me all of the feels. I loved Rioja, but I was equally excited to go see Penedes (Peh – nay – dace).
First, just in case, Cava is the sparkling wine made in Spain (near Barcelona) that is made in the same style of Champagne. To be fair, there is some Cava not made in that region, but it’s barely 5% of the total Cava made.
For those that know me well, they know why I would be so excited to go drink sparkling wine. For those that are just recently getting to know me, I will make it easy: If I could only drink one beverage other than water… one… for the rest of my life, sparkling wine would be it.
Needless to say, I was PUMPED.
We arrived to a small town in the Penedes region of Spain of only 2,000 people, and pulled up to the Rexach Baques winery with eyes wide and tails wagging. Montse (the winemaker and lady we have been speaking with for some time now) was not there upon our arrival, but her mom was and like many people in Spain, she didn’t speak much English. Come to find out, she called Montse (Mont-say) and told her “please come here quick! There are some people here I can’t understand”!
Although this happened in many parts of Spain it wasn’t more prevalent than this day. Catalonia is the region of Spain, the country, we were in (Penedes was the smaller – sub region in side of Catalonia). This is important because, the language they speak isn’t even Spanish…it is Catalan. So the little Spanish we did speak went out the window and we had to rely on our instincts and the fact we knew Montse spoke a little English.
Why is it worth bringing up? We found out quickly, as with the whole trip, no matter the language barrier, speaking in wine is universal and we all had the love for wine in common, making any misunderstanding we had something no one involved ever noticed. This fact was pretty unreal when you think about it.
The property at Rexach Baques was nothing short of stunning. After walking around outside for a few minutes, we all hopped in the car and took a drive to their vineyards. As each time, this is one of my favorite parts. Seeing the grapes, soil and all things involved with the vines is such an amazing experience.
The grapes they are growing themselves are Parellada (Pear-a-yada), Macabeo (Mack-a-beo) and Xarel-lo (Cheh-rello). These are 3 grape varieties native to this region, that are made into the sparkling wines of Cava.
We spent a short time in the vineyard, but the time we did spend was great: Chatting, eating the local meat (Fuet) and drinking rose Cava. After heading back to the winery, we knew what was next and were giddy…touring the cellar.
I know what you’re thinking; it’s a wine cellar, how could it be that much different? If you’ve never toured or seen sparkling wine caves, then I suggest to do the best you can to see them. They. are. breathtaking.
I could write for hours about how much I loved them, but let’s just say this: They had over 1 mile of caves, with hundreds of thousands of bottles and even had the original cave that was build when the winery was started.
The winery was started over 100 years ago by Montse’s great grandfather and the caves were dug… BY HAND. The caves are 14 meters deep, except for the original which is 7 meters deep. They thought the ideal climate was a bit further down, so they kept moving. The thing is, they kept the ORIGINAL cave from over 100 years ago. Intact. We ended the tour by going into the cave, seeing some of the bottles that were first bottled and seeing how they did it 100 years ago.
We could feel the energy in the room as if those that helped build it were still there. It is something that I cannot put into words. I only wish that those who haven’t had a chance to experience something like that get to in their lifetime.
Before leaving, we had lunch with the family and discussed all things about life, wine and happiness. We shared a couple more glasses of Cava and headed into Barcelona, parting ways with a family we know will be in our lives forever.
The next day, we went back to the winery to film the vineyards to make sure we captured all the footage we needed to keep creating the best experience possible for everyone when they get the chance to drink the wines. We took our time and made sure to be thorough, really doing the best we can to show every detail, down to the how different the soil differences are…even from only 10 feet away.
After just over a day in Penedes, we headed down south to Valencia to check out two more wine regions that we couldn’t have been more excited to go to: Utiel-Requena and Alicante.
Until next time,