Just outside of Barcelona in the rural sun-soaked Catalonian countryside is Torres Winery, Pacs del Penedès.
Here you can enjoy an immersive tour of the world’s most admired wine brand (Drinks International magazine) by a family company who’ve been wine producing since 1870.
Debarking the Norwegian Epic in Barcelona (tour and review to follow), I enjoyed my shore excursion here with a new company TripAshore, organised by Cruise Nation (http://www.cruisenation.com/).
Welcomed by a TripAshore ambassador and local tour guides, I boarded a comfortable coach for an hours journey outside of the city.
As a team of ten, the company’s tour debut was sure to be a relaxed and personal experience… and this was not just by luck – TripAshore soon mentioned how every excursion of theirs will be in small and intimate groups.
After insight to the local history on route, we were shown inside to watch a short film about Bodegas Torres wine to whet our appetites.
As you’d expect for this wine growing region, the weather was sublime and any sluggishness from a late night and early start quickly melted away.
We boarded a land train for a tour of the vineyards on our way to the wine cellars. The vineyards are closely monitored using traditional techniques (no weedkillers or insecticides).
Penedès is the birthplace of cava, a direct competitor to champagne from France. Our tour guide noted the grapes here actually produce more natural sugar due to the warmer weather.
Ecological design by Barcelona architect Javier Barba.
The land train takes you into the wine cellars where projections on walls bring to life the company’s history.
The buildings around here are very modern and artistic, the sand roofs reflecting the heat away from the cooling wine below.
It’s a modern and environmentally friendly complex – this Waltraud winery built in 2008 generates solar power and their Marimar estate in California is certified organic and biodynamic.
One thing I was particularly struck by was the emphasis on ecology – the Torres family (currently managed by Miguel A. Torres) aim to reduce CO2 emissions per bottle by 30% by 2020 compared to 2008.
Our wine tasting session took place in this gorgeous ultra modern building above the cellars. You could easily mistake it for a bachelor pad in the Hollywood hills!
The eight wines (including two Salmos) carefully selected for the tasting.
To begin we tried Vina Esmeralda that quickly won praise from the group for the big hit of grape and lychee flavour that quickly dissolves.
The experience was a learning curve for me as I’m no wine connoisseur. Based on past experiences, I found this wine very easy to drink.
Accompanying our wine tasting was a variety of Spanish appetisers like grilled pineapple, cheese, savoury macaroons and seasoned chicken. It went down a treat!
The wine is made using a delicate process from hand picking the grapes to ageing.
Throughout the process the Torres host gave plenty of insight and facts about the wine – for example if you’re a seafood lover, the sweet and mild acidity of the Pazo das Bruxas was recommended.
In all we tried four white and four red wines, including two samples of Torres Salmos.
Interestingly, around 1% of wine corks can be effected by a fungus that alters the taste of the wine (known as ‘cork taint‘). This happened to one of the Salmos bottles and we were able to identify the difference through smell and taste.
After the wine tasting we were offered the option of touring the vineyards by foot on our way to the cellars or taking the land train.
We walked through part one of the tunnels… in total they stretch over two kilometres!
We were later given some free time to explore the wine museum – and grab a photo opportunity in front of this vintage car.
There’s also a fully stocked shop to purchase wine from Torres. If you can’t make it here quite yet, the wine is stocked in over 140 countries, including the United Kingdom.
I really enjoyed my experience at the winery with TripAshore, this would surely be a must for any wine enthusiast!
If you’re a novice like me, rest assured I found it very accessible, easy to understand and discovered new appreciation for the beverage.
Thanks to Torres Winery, TripAshore and Cruise Nation for organising an excellent tour experience.
If you’re interested in taking an excursion with the company, TripAshore also mentioned that they are all inclusive – you don’t pay for special extras or highlights, everything is taken care of. Visit TripAshore.com for more information.
This was an expenses paid trip with Cruise Nation and TripAshore. All opinions are my own.
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Click here for my chef’s table menu experience in Park Plaza Cardiff – including six courses and four glasses of wine.