Located right outside of beautiful Barcelona, you’ll find Catalonia’s infamous cava region. We took a day trip from Barcelona to the Freixenet Cava Distillery – it’s time to have some cava for lunch!
Cava Tasting at Freixenet Distillery, Barcelona
A few weeks ago, I suddenly found myself on a rather spontaneous trip to the Catalan capital of Barcelona. Truth be told, I had felt a bit down ever since a horrendous food poisoning in Morocco forced me to cancel my Central American journey, and as I gradually started to get better (in other words – I could eat again) I was in desperate need of some new and amazing adventures. Luckily, I have some rather amazing friends, and in the attempt of cheering me up, Julia suggested that we could meet up with Clare in her hometown, Barcelona. Why not combine a weekend trip to Barcelona with a much needed reunion?
As you might imagine, I was embarrasingly easy to convince, and only a few days later we landed in Catalonia – more than ready for a few relaxing days of sangria, tapas and wonderful adventures.
Considering the name of this blog, I don’t think I will surprise anyone by revealing that one of our top priorities while visiting Spain was to experience a proper Cava tasting. Luckily for us, Clare worked her magic, and she quickly booked us in on a cava tasting session at the Freixenet distillery.
The History of Freixenet Cava Production
As this was our first trip to Barcelona, we wanted to spend as much time in the city as possible. Day after day, Clare patiently showed us around her hometown – taking us to famous landmarks, local food markets, hidden hiking routes and stunning views. We loved every second of it.
However, we were keen on doing at least one day trip from Barcelona, and the cava tasting gave us the perfect opportunity. The Freixenet distillery is only a 50 minutes train journey west of Barcelona, in a wee village known as Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. The building itself is cleverly situated only a few metres outside of the local train station. You don’t need a car, GPS or a map – it’s so close that it’s basically impossible to miss it.
Freixenet is on a 12th century farming estate, and its heritage is the result of a marriage between two of Catalonia’s largest wine producers. At the end of the 19th century, Dolores Sala Vivé, heiress to Casa Sala, married Pedro Ferrer Bosch of La Freixeneda. Their families had originally produced red wine, but a phylloxera plague had haunted and destroyed red wine grapes all across Europe. The newlyweds, hugely inspired by the instant success of Codornui and champagne, encouraged their families to replant whit white grap varietes in order to start producing sparkling wine instead.
Soon, Dolores and Pedro switched the Sala family wine production to sparkling wine, made under the traditional method Méthode Champenoise.
It wasn’t until 1941, however, that Freixenet would launch its most famous bottle, the Carta Nevada. In 1974, the Spanish family business achieved interational success with yet another cava variety, the Cordon Negro.
Fun Fact: Around 95% of Spain’s cava production stems from Catalonia. Sant Sadurni d’Annoia is home to many of the largest production houses, so this village is basically every wine lover’s dream.
Our Cava Tasting at Freixenet
Freixenet offer several guided tours and tasting sessions every single day, but I do advice you to book in advance. There are plenty of tour companies offering you a day trip from Barcelona to the cava region and Freixenet, but you can save plenty of $$$ by taking the train on your own. It’s very straightforward, and it will cost you way less than driving around on a minibus with all the rest of the tourists. Travelling on your own also allows you to spend the day in Sant Sadurni d’Annoia. While it’s certainly not a large town, I would highly encourage you to find a cute restaurant for lunch and to sample the wine selection of the local bars. You won’t regret it.
Anyway, back to our cava tasting.
We were met by a guide who enthusiastically led us through a century of Freixenet history. And then our grand tour started, through the production rooms and the wine cellars. While leading our group further down into dark cellars and hidden rooms, we all went quiet as the air got colder.
I would love to tell you some of the Freixenet secrets we learnt on our tour, but I think you just have to go visit and find it out for yourself…
The highlight of our tour were obviously the cava tasting itself. Armed with a rather generous glass of Freixenet Cava Real, we were all instructed on the notes that constituted the rather sweet drink. While I honestly do prefer my cava a wee bit dryer, it was still highly enjoyable.
We had such a brilliant day visiting the Freixenet distillery, and after our tasting we basically rolled into the nearest restaurant to order some more Cava. Are you feeling inspired? Well, here’s 9 more cava wineries to visit!
I honestly don’t think there’s anything that’s better than Cava for lunch.