Last updated on August 7, 2017
What could be better than a one-day wine tasting tour, sipping your way through 3 of the best vineyards in the revered Penedès wine region near Barcelona.
One of the reasons I love living in Barcelona so much is because of the wine. To me there’s just something incredibly romantic about the fact that the city is surrounded by hectare upon hectare of beautiful vines.
And for wine lovers visiting Barcelona, a day-trip out to the local bodegas is simply essential.
If you’re looking for a wine tasting tour from Barcelona then I highly recommend this immersive one-day wine tour.
The wine tour includes all transport (jump on the bus in Placa Catalunya and your guide will take care of the rest) and wine tasting sessions at three different vineyards near Barcelona – outstanding value for money.
Book your Barcelona wine tour now or read on to hear about my personal experience.
Discovering the Fascinating Story of Jean Leon
The first wine bodega we visited was the small Jean Leon winery, where we enjoyed our first galvanising wine tasting of the day and discovered Jean Leon’s story. And quite the story it is…
Born Ceferino Carrión in Santander in 1928, he left Spain at the age of 19 after his family lost everything they owned in a devastating house fire. First he moved to Paris, before finally making it to New York as a stowaway after eight attempts.
He carried with him nothing but a small “suitcase of dreams” and it was here, in ‘The Land of Opportunity’ that he changed his name to Jean Leon.
He worked as a waiter and bus boy in the star-studded Rockefeller Center, which one can only presume was the inspiration behind his move across the country to find new opportunities in Hollywood, California.
The glitz, the glamour, the “anything’s possible” mentality – young Jean Leon was captivated.
Hollywood, Success and Sinatra
Luck struck when Jean found a job at Villa Capri, a restaurant and cocktail bar owned by Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio.
Here, Jean flourished and soon become one of Sinatra’s most entrusted assistants. Sinatra taught him how to get along in a world of celebrities, where Jean would rub shoulders with actors like James Dean, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and Jimmy Durante.
James Dean and Chasing Dreams
A true dreamer of dreams, Jean’s wildest fantasy became reality when he and James Dean partnered up to open La Scala in Beverly Hills, which to this day is one of the most famous and respected restaurants in the US.
As the restaurant grew increasingly successful, Jean decided it was time to place the proverbial cherry on his cake by buying his own vineyard.
To have his name on a bottle of wine, to be able to serve his own wine to his famous guests at his restaurant. It would be the ultimate rags-to-riches story.
A Man. A Time. A Wine.
Jean first looked in America, but after being tipped off about the Penedes wine region he bought 15o hectares of prime land and founded a single vineyard estate in the traditional style of a Bordeaux Chateau.
It was baffling to his neighbours as it was virtually unheard of during Spain’s Franco years. He also pulled up the local grape varieties and planted Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, which he smuggled across the border from France and deemed perfect for the humid Mediterranean climate.
Jean Leon was the first person to cultivate Chardonnay and produce Cabernet Sauvignon in Spain Many would follow in his footsteps.
Train Rides, Cheese and Tasting at Torres – Spain’s Largest Winery
If you have any interest in Spanish wine then you may well have heard of Torres before. Founded in 1870 by Jaime Torres, Torres occupies a vast expanse of the Penedès DO and is the largest wine producer in Spain.
The company also has vineyards in Chile, USA and other parts of Spain, including the DO Ribera del Duero, DOQ Priorat and most recently in the DOC Rioja.
Torres may be a Goliath of a company, but it’s all about sustainability and is committed to the development of ecological wine production.
It was fascinating to hear about how the company is thinking towards the future, even purchasing land in elevated locations just in case temperatures continue to rise. After all, what could be a worse fate than a world without wine?
But of course, even more fun than exploring the Torres cellars and wine museum was the actual wine tasting.
We nibbled Spanish cheese and sipped a range of whites and reds, finishing with a silky sweet Moscatel.
My only complaint would be that I wanted more wine. But then again, when the wine’s good, is there really such thing as “enough”?
Cave Touring and Cava Tasting at Freixenet
If you’re a Champagne lover then you will no doubt be excited about getting stuck into a selection of Spanish Cavas. Sweet and sparkling, this beautiful bubbly is fundamentally the same product as French Champagne and is made using the exact same process.
From the fermentation to the riddling, we learned all about its production as we explored the deepest depths of Freixenet’s cellars, or ‘cavas’ (caves) as they call them in Catalan – yup, that’s where the name comes from.
Producing some 100 million bottles a year, Freixenet is the largest Cava producer in the region of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, which is responsible for about 95% of Spain’s total Cava production.
To put it simply: these guys know a thing or two about making quality sparkling wine.
The highlight of the entire trip for me was sitting down with a glass of Cava and a place of sliced meats and cheeses, whilst getting to know some of my fellow wine tourers.
In a Nutshell / Conclusion
If you’re in Barcelona for a short period of time and are interested in delving into its world-class wine industry, this one-day tour is a fantastic way to squeeze more into less time. It’s informative and fun, and most importantly you get to taste plenty of different types of local wines.
Make it Happen
Visit the Wine Tourism Spain website to book your place on the tour.
The tour starts when the bus departs Placa Catalunya at 8.30am and ends when you return to Barcelona at roughly 4.30pm.
Tickets cost €66 per person and include everything (transport, food and wine).
Be sure to take an empty bag with you to fill with bottles of wine from each bodega!