Catalan Wines: The Beginning
The Phoenicians and the Greeks brought the grape to Catalunya in the 4th Century B.C. by way of the Mediterranean Ocean. Later, the Romans consolidated the cultivation of the grape in Catalan cities like Gerunda, Barcino y Tarraco (now modern-day Girona, Barcelona and Tarragona) and exported wine from these urban areas to Northern Africa, Galicia and Britain.
The Roman Empire fell, the Iberian peninsula was invaded by the Barbarians and the Muslims, leading to several centuries of no grape production. Later friars in the 10th and 11th centuries built monasteries like the one at Santa María de Poblet and restored the cultivation of the grape in the areas surrounding their clausters, and also built cellars to begin making their own wines.
By the middle of the 18th century, grape growing had extended throughout Catalunya and was one of the principal sources of income for Catalan farmers. Catalan economy began to depend on income from the exportation of wine and liqeurs to the rest of Europe.
The highly celebrated large “Modernist” wineries — famous for their use of Catalan Modernist architecture — would arise in 19th century, and by the hand of Catalunya’s most famous architects, such as Cesar Martinell, Domenech i Montaner and, of course, Gaudí. These artists built true masterpieces which were dubbed “Cathedrals of Wine” in picturesque locales such as Falset, Gandesa and L´Espluga de Francolí, among others.
Today, Catalan winemakers rely on the most advanced technology, such temperature controlled fermentation, as well as traditional methods, like aging in oak barrels, to reach the enviable quality that Catalan wine is known for.
To get to know the basics of Catalan wine, go to the drop-down menu of this section to get started.