The origin of wine in Catalonia goes back at least 2,700 years. This drink has occupied a prominent place in history, as evidenced by the continuing findings of vestiges of bygone eras that are not only available to archeologists and scholars, but also more and more to everyone. Winemakers, tourists interested in everything related to wine, can visit places from the pre-Iberian period to the present day, often with a guided tour that includes a tasting. There are still many unknowns to solve, such as which grape varieties were grown, so here are some deposits to discover all the secrets that our wine hides.
The site of Font de la Canya
To revive its origins, the best option is to go to the Iberian site of the Font de la Canya in Avinyonet del Penedès (Alt Penedès). It is divided into two locations, where guided tours are offered: the site, a merchandise center from the 7th-1st centuries BC, and the interpretation center, where some finds are preserved, which the visitor may also enjoy for his account. According to the director, Daniel López, "wine arrived in Catalonia in the 7th century BC", around 650 BC, in the early Iron Age or pre-Iberian period. It was brought by the Phoenicians from the south of the Iberian Peninsula and what would now be the coast of Tunisia, where Carthage was, shortly before its introduction into the hands of the Greeks through Empúries, a place usually has considered the gateway to wine.
"It came first as an element of exchange and prestige only for the elites," López specifies, "so" the most important thing was the accumulation of wine rather than the quality. " Apart from being imported, it was also made here, as evidenced by the finding of mineralized seeds, peduncles and shoots that indicate that the vine was manipulated to make wine. The items that have been recovered include a bronze ladle or simpulum to serve (650-575 BC), a pod to cut vines (IV-III centuries BC) and the remains of a large banquet room where there was a sculpture of Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture, and who it has become the image of the Penedès Designation of Origin because wine has been fundamental in this region.
The Roman winery in Vallmora
In Roman times, between Iluro – the current Mataró – and Baetulo – that is, Badalona – there was a rural area with a few villas and businesses. A testament to this is the Roman winery in Vallmora, in Teià (Maresme), considered "a wine factory" that was in operation between the 1st and 4th centuries BC, explains the anthropologist and space guide, Paula Lloret. , by Tanit Diffusion. In this place are the remains of a winery where the last wine made was red, which rests on the remnants of an Iberian-Roman bread oven. They coexist with those of a second-largest winery, where four oversized presses used to draw all the juice from grapes that had not been squashed by their feet.
There are floors and foundations of original structures, but two of the presses that have been rebuilt, one with a lathe system and the other with a spiral, are the most striking. Lloret details that they are nine meters long and weigh almost 3,000 kilos each, which shows how important winemaking was in Roman times. Work is also underway to rebuild 19 it hurt, large buried ceramic vessels. The excavated area is completed with a small exhibition and an audio-visual. You can visit Saturdays and Sundays for free or with a guided tour.
The legacy of Baetulo
The Barcelona area is a predominantly urban area, but the vineyard has played a key role in the founding and growth of many cities, as can be seen in the Museum of Badalona (Barcelonès). "In the last quarter of the first century BC and the entire first century AD, the exploitation and export of wine was the economic engine of Baetulo," explains archaeologist Clara Forn from the remains that have been found in some. sites of the municipality and that allow to continue the history of the wine over several centuries. From Baetulo came wine-filled amphoras to southern France, Rome and even where London is now. In addition to the museum, where pieces such as a ladle to serve wine are also stored, you can visit the House of the Dolphins every second Sunday of the month, where there are three tanks that used to store up to 17,000 liters of wine. Soon the Casa de l’Heura will open, also a testament to the wine-making past. "In Badalona the cultivation of viticulture has been the most important that has been from Roman times until almost the middle of the twentieth century," says Forn, who notes that "the urbanization of the municipal area has been so abrupt that it costs a lot." imagine the city surrounded by vineyards. "
The mountain of Olèrdola
On the mountain of Olèrdola (Alt Penedès) it has also become clear that wine was already made 2,700 years ago as the Font de la Canya, specifically the archeologist Núria Molist, who is responsible for this monumental complex , one of the headquarters of the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia. However, what stands out in recent years is the research on the medieval city of the 11th and 11th centuries, a time of which little is known. However, in Olèrdola nine wineries have been identified with vestiges of presses, cups and spaces where the wine was stored. "These are rock-carving facilities," he emphasizes. The analyzes have confirmed the presence of tartaric acid, which is associated with wine making. Visitors can visit the site freely, despite the fact that part of the wineries have only been partially signaled, or they may opt for guided tours focused on wine production.
The vats of the Bages
Unlike Olèrdola, where the grapes were taken to the city to make wine, in Bages they chose a different way, which can be discovered by walking. They still have a wine heritage that is unknown to many people, but that is of the first importance. These are the vines at the foot of the vineyard to make the wine right there, and they spread throughout the region between the 16th and 17th centuries. Ricard Vilalta, co-owner of Bages Terra de Vins, a company that has been offering guided tours for about five years, says that it is "a unique heritage in the world" because at present they have not been found anywhere. It is common for the vats to be built in the farms, but in Bages, one of the places where there had been the most vineyards in Catalonia, they spread through the countryside as a result of the granting of portions of land to the rabassaires and the exploitation of each vineyard. ever further away from the farmhouses. The most consolidated route to visit them is in the Flequer Valley, about 6.5 kilometers, where there is another singularity: they are usually solitary, but there are four sets of between two and eleven vats. Vilalta says that about 180 have been inventoryed, but those in the Flequer valley and those near Sant Benet are probably the only ones that have been marked. In many counties you can also stroll along dry stone walls of terraces delimiting plots.
The cathedrals of wine
Among the most recent constructions that can leave us more amazed are the so-called wine cathedrals, whose centenary is over. These are modernist buildings, usually built by cooperatives under the auspices of the Commonwealth of Catalonia, and represented a whole revolution in the way wine was made. Many can be visited, and even some are still produced. One of the cathedrals The one that catches the most attention is that of Pinell de Brai (Terra Alta), but the list is extensive: Gandesa (in the same region), Falset (Priorat) and Nulles (Alt Camp). Whoever wants to take an express tour of two important moments in wine history in our country has the option of joining a guided tour of the Roman winery of Vallmora and the modernist of 1906 by Alella Vinícola in Alella (Maresme). . And to see what a winery is like today, you just have to go to one of the many that offer tours.
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