The county of the Alt Penedès, 40 km south of Barcelona, is dedicated to the production of excellent-quality wines and cavas. Wine-growing is carried out at over 300 wineries, some of them built in the modernista style and open to visitors.
The privileged geographical location on a plateau near the sea protected by mountains, the mild climate of the Mediterranean coast and permeable soil, rich in phosphor, have made the Alt Penedès Catalonia's leading wine and cava producer. The Museu de les Cultures del Vi de Catalunya (Museum of Wine Cultures of Catalonia), in the county capital, Vilafranca del Penedès, displays two wine-press plates that prove the existence of wine-growing before the 4th century BC. The landscape is dotted with farmhouses and wineries, or cellers, set among vines, with a predominance of smallholdings, where visitors can take part in tastings throughout the year. The Penedès wine cellars are well-known for their desire of innovation, such as the "Família Torres", which offers a range of enotourism and gastronomic experiences that are famous worldwide. 1872 was a year of change for part of the county. The town of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia began producing the sparkling wine, known as cava, using the traditional Penedès grape varieties: macabeo, xarel·lo and parellada. Since then, the cava-producing sector has become the most successful in the Catalan wine industry. There are 80 wineries around Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, which produce 70% of Spanish sparkling wine.
Visitors to the Penedès can also see a display of human towers, or castells, and taste the typical dish xató (salt cod salad served with a special sauce).
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