Torres: A day in the wine heart of Catalonia

A gastronomic journey to the other side of the Mediterranean, to Barcelona, would be at least incomplete without a visit to Penedes, the heart of the most prestigious wine district of Catalonia. There you will find Miguel Torres’ winery, which righteously holds the title of the largest winery in Spain.

By Panos Georgountzos

The route from Barcelona to Penedes is not preparing the traveler the least for the beauty of the natural landscape that one will face at the winery. The first vines will be seen far enough for Barcelona and they follow industrial buildings that dominate the first half of the distance. And these first vines give Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo and the rest of the varieties used for the production of Cava. When you reach Villafrance de Penedes, the nearest town to the winery, it’s not easy to get lost. There are signs leading to the winery almost everywhere.

Torres winery puts great emphasis on hospitality and visitor tours. With a small price one can tour almost all parts of the vast winery. But it’s not just that. Touring includes riding on a train, projection of a short documentary and of hologram images, wine tasting and all that in 8(!) languages. But let's take things from the beginning ...

The Torres family, of Catalan origin, produces and sells wine since the 18th century. The first winery was built in Vilafranca de Penedes but it was completely destroyed by bombing in 1939, during the Spanish Civil War. The family did not put it down. The new winery that was built, was a real gem for the wine industry, but also provided the impetus for further expansion and the eventual creation of the "Torres Empire”. In 1979 they opened the winery in Chile and in 1982 in California.

In Penedes the family owns 1.300 hectares of vineyards and produces wine from local and international (mostly French) varieties. The winery is the largest in Spain in processing capacity and production. It has 2 kilometers of underground cellars that can accommodate 20,000 barrels of French and American oak. The fermentation tank are outdoors, protected by a special hangar, without external walls. Lately, the winery technicians are experimenting with special colors with which to paint the tanks in order to use less energy for cooling. In general, the Torres family promotes an environmentally friendly profile, either by applying such technologies in their facilities (eg solar panels in Penedes), or by funding relevant scientific research.

In Penedes Torres produces some of the most famous wines, such as the Reserva Real traditionally produced in the honour of the King of Spain. The Reserva Real matures in a separate room in the cellars, under the personal inspection of the head winemaker, who in Penedes is Miguel Torres himself. Very special wine with great aging potential is the Gran Coronas Mas la Plana, the flagship of Torres from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with multiple awards. Very decent is the Gran Coronas Reserva from Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, which is an everyday favourite with a very good value for money ratio.

Before leaving the winery don’t forget to visit the wine and gifts shop, as well as measure the level of wine tourism in Spain, that along with gastro-tourism offer the country a significant income.