The Wine Harvest

The intense Mediterranean sun, cool sea breezes, the absence of excessive rain. From centuries past, the Catalan climate has brought forth vineyards, and with them the most exquisite wines. As summer nears its ends and the temperature rises, the Catalan county of Alt Penedès prepares for what is undoubtedly the most important and celebrated event of the year: the Wine Harvest.

Vilafranca del Penedès is capital of the largest wine growing region in Catalonia

Internationally renowned for the DO Penedès wines and Classic Penedès espumosas, popularly known as cava, there are over 100 wineries in the region bottling from an astounding selection of more than 25 types of grape. While Xarel.lo, Macabeu and Parellada varieites are most commonly associated with the region, it is not now uncommon to find Garnatxa, Riesling, Malvasia, Pinot Noir and Cabarnets among the mix. Historically known for its white, internationally recognized cellers such as Torres, Jean Leon and Can Rafols dels Caus are now widely acclaimed for their red wines as well.

And with the grape harvest comes the traditional festivals and pagan rituals which date from pre-Christian times. For that reason, in Vilafranca and here in Les Cabanyes, it is not unusual to encounter hooded “diables”, or devils, and fire-breathing paper-maché dragons parading through the streets during “Fiesta Major”, or the harvest festivals popular throughout Catalonia.

At Cal Florit, there is a century-old tradition of wine production as well

In this small village surrounded by vineyards as far as the eye can see, Cal Florit is the most emblematic house of this community 5 minutes from Vilafranca. Catalogued for its architectural interest by the Ministry of Culture, this turn-of-the-century Modernist house once belonged to one of the largest landowners and wine producers in the village. While its land has since been ceded to neighboring Cellers Planas & Albareda, the spirit of wine production lives on. Since converted to one of the most unique “casas rurales”, or vacation homes, in the region, the 7-bedroom Cal Florit retains the essence of its vintage past: the bodega still intact, there are still hand-tiled “cups”, or fermenting containers, in the floors where the the “most” was first passed after pressing; piping and arched columns; even the laboratory where the wine was analyzed for sugar and alcohol content. Unfortunately, the 55 250-liter French oak barrels have been lost to time, we look forward to resuming production of a house cava soon.