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Visiting Spain? Sip Your Way Through the Cava Landscapes

by Team Fathom
All photos courtesy of D.O. CAVA.

Produced in partnership with D.O. CAVA.

When you finally make that trip to Spain, you know it’ll be one big, long celebration — with sparkling wine (why not).

What better way to sample the country’s impressive range of bubbles — and get to know the land — than to travel to incredible regions responsible for producing Cava?

For those who aren’t super familiar with Cava’s origins, get ready to hydrate: This is a big D.O., and because the four Cava-producing regions are not contiguous — which is pretty unusual for wines — travelers can truly experience a wide range of landscapes and flavors while on tour.

Cava (as you may know by now from this and that) are sparkling wines made in the traditional method that are versatile, accommodating, and varied — as are the destinations in which they are produced. So much of Cava’s production is about taking great care of the land, continuously cultivating and giving back to the vines to give life to the wines, so to speak. If you care about sustainability and regenerative travel, you’ll love Cava’s eco-friendly lifestyle, so drink up: This sparkling wine’s for you.

Photo courtesy of Alta Alella.

Comtats De Barcelona

We head first to Catalonia, the northeastern part of Spain along the Mediterranean coast, close to the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona. Wind your way through beautiful depressions between mountain ranges, sun-drenched valleys with more than a hint of a Mediterranean breeze.

Ninety-five percent of Cava production is concentrated here. Comtats translates as “counties” — lands historically belonging to the count of Barcelona — including the town Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, where the first bottles of Cava were produced in 1872.

Refresh

Explore among the vines at these family-run wineries:

Hike Serralada de Marina Natural Park overlooking the sea and make your way to Alta Alella Celler de les Aus, which has vineyards planted on slopes and terraces, catching that salty air. Come summer, the winery puts on Alta Alella Sunset Parties with a DJ on the patio lounge overlooking the vines.

Family-run winery Parés Baltà, whose origins stretch back to 1790, makes biodynamic, certified organic sparkling wines that are full of vitality. Take a 4×4 tour of the Penedés region, then retreat to the patio for a Cava pairing with chocolate or cheese.

The organic, handcrafted wines of Naveran come from grapes grown on hallowed ground — the family traced the estate’s roots back to the 11th century, when it was the site of a Romanesque chapel and vines. Today you can walk the meticulous cellar corridor stacked floor-to-ceiling with bottles and sip bubbly between the vines.

Clear and bright, the Cava from Avinyó is made by the 14th generation of the family on the land. Though harvest is carried out at daybreak, drinking sparkling wine in the beautiful stone tasting room should be your afternoon affair.

As day turns to evening, settle into a seat under elegant trees lit with twinkling lights at Giró Ribot, and place an order for a round of golden Cava to sip and savory tapas to savor.

Relax + Recharge

What to do before and after the vineyards? Take a hike, dip in the sea, and then get ready to enjoy a great meal.

The undisputed Capital of Cava, Sant Sadurní — with its historic town center, medieval tower, and modernist buildings — makes for a lovely place to stroll. In the Museo del Vino, the Interpretation Center Cava offers a multimedia interactive tour of the origin and character highlights of the famous beverage.

In summer, visit the Ordal Peach Market (Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Plaça de Subirats) in charming Sant Pau d'Ordal and dine at Cal Xim for meat grilled in the Catalan tradition.

Explore the archaeological remains of the prehistoric tribal settlement at Font de la Canya, located in Avinyonet del Penedés and dating back to the 7th century B.C.E. The findings unearthed over the last two decades mark the beginning of the wine-growing that has helped shape the identity of the region.

Have a casual and fun outdoor lunch at La Gravella Club Sisters in Alella.

Pop into Celler Jordana (Rambla Angel Guimera, 60, Alella) for a glass of Cava among wooden barrels. Then sample slow food goodness at Els Garrofers.

Enjoy your favorite bottle (or two or three, who’s counting?) with music every July during the annual international Vijazz festival, held in the town of Vilafranca del Penedés.

Trace the history of wine making in Vilafranca del Penedés by soaking up the landscape of the 3.5-kilometer Camí del Vi wine route.

Try dinner at Restaurant Marejol in Vilanova i la Geltrú, where the wine list is excellent and the tables overlook the sea.

In Vallromanes, be sure to book dinner at Restaurante 1497 del Hotel Mas Salagros in the heart of a nature reserve.

After drinking at Giró Ribot in Santa Fe del Penedès, head to nearby Vilanova i la Geltrú for a seat by the sea and a peek at the terrific wine list at Restaurant Marejol.

Once you call it a day at Avinyó, eat a fine meal at Can Joan in Olesa de Bonesvalls.

As you make your way across the region — exploring Sant Sadurní d'Anoia or Torrelavit or Subirats or Avinyonet del Penedés — look out for the signs to the miravinya, the vineyard viewing points where you can get breathtaking panoramic views of vine-planted terraces, peach orchards, and old farmhouses.

Refill

Plan ahead and have a case waiting for you at home:

  • Alta Alella Mirgin Gran Reserva 2017
  • Avinyó Selecció La Ticota 2012 Gran Reserva
  • Naveran Brut Vintage
  • Giró Ribot Paul Cheneau Brut
  • Segura Viudas Brut
Spain's mightiest river — Ebro.

Valle Del Ebro

Ebro flows in the most northern part of the D.O.; it’s the region’s most important river — and Spain’s mightiest. The Ebro Valley is made up of towns and tributaries carving out celebrated vineyards in one of the most famous wine regions. Winters are quite cold and summers are hot and dry, yielding lots of biodiversity and indigenous grapes to boot.

Refresh

Learn about the bubbles. Love the bubbles! Spend time enjoying Cava to your heart’s content at local wineries:

Tour the immense barrel hall at Bodegas Faustino in Oyón and then sample a flight during a 90-minute appointment.

Explore Bodegas Monasterio de Veruela, a local project led by women with extensive experience in the world of wine.

With the longest-running history (75 years and counting) in Cariñena (an exciting wine region with its own appellation and varietal), the Bodega San Valero has access to some of the most prominent vines.

Relax + Recharge

Between tastings, stroll city streets, see world class art, and take your time exploring old villages.

Logroño, the capital of Rioja, is a wine-obsessed city not to be missed. Stroll the boisterous Calle Laurel to sample the best wines and tapas of the region. Stop for dinner at Casa Víctor, La Carbonera, or La Rosaleda 1946.

Drive to Laguardia, a walled medieval town that is wonderfully preserved.

A bit farther afield (and worth a day trip) is Bilbao and the notable Museo Guggenheim. Try the pinchos and tapas in the older part of town known as zona vieja.

Refill

Have a case waiting for you at home:

  • Bodegas Faustino Brut Rosado
Fresh off the vines.

The Other Zones: Viñedos De Almendralejo + Zona De Levante

There are only a small number of Cava producers in these regions, and the wines are hard to come by in the United States — making them excellent jumping-off points for oenophiles with a sense of adventure and a desire for rare tastes.

Located in the southwestern part of the Designation of Origin, in Badajoz province in Tierra de Barros, Viñedos De Almendralejo is flat and dry with mild winters and super hot summer temperatures accentuated by the warm wind known locally as the solano.

A great example of what’s happening in this area can be found (and tasted) at Bodegas Romale. The winery utilizes grapes from 740 acres of surrounding vineyards in the Tierra de Barros area. Tradition and state-of-the-art technology come together here; the winery offers extensive tours, workshops, and tastings that go deep into process and methodology.

Then there’s Zona de Levante, the coastal area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Castilian plateau, which experiences long, cold winters in the highlands, and strong sea winds from the east. Within the zone is the architectural marvel of a city, Valencia — and its excellent museums, lauded paella cafes, Calatrava-designed cultural complex, and bustling promenade along the beach. From the 13th century, El Celler de Proava is considered the oldest winery in the city.

In this region, the innovative guys running Bodegas Hispanic + Suizas offer wine and culinary experiences, as well as a complete vineyard-hotel getaway at turn-of-the-20th-century home named Finca Casa La Borracha.

The organic vineyards of Pago de Tharsys are nestled among limestone bedrock and olive and almond trees. The winery specializes in long-aging organic Cavas — and they offer curious guests a peek into the Cava-making process through various tour offerings.

In the countryside, Dominio de la Vega showcases the area’s distinctive characteristics in its bottles of bubbly, which you can taste at the winery. Get in touch in advance and they will also point you toward delightful meals and charming rural accommodations.

Where to Find Cava

Your favorite wine shop should carry a good range (and if they don’t, ask them to!), and you can also find a good selection online at wine.com, Gary's Wine, and Stirling Fine Wines.

Get to Know Cava

Learn more about Cava’s origins and production methods, wineries to visit, and recipes to make at cava.wine and follow D.O. Cava on Instagram and Facebook.