If I were a drinker, living in Sitges, Mas Mestre or Olivella would be paradise. Our morning walks with Sweep would often take us through Cava vineyards along the southern end of the Penedes region some 40km south west of Barcelona.
Having stayed there on and off for about a year we were fortunate to see the difference in the vineyards throughout their three seasons (Catalunya doesn’t suffer with winter) and how a few gnarly looking stumps flourished into wine bearing grapes of joy. Well, for some people anyway.
Cava is a sparkling wine which companies like Tesco and Marks & Spencer sell in the UK at reasonable prices. Some consider it be a form of champagne but in truth it’s a sparkling table wine.
The grapes; a very small almost perfectly round number, are mainly grown in Penedes, Catalunya although there are Cava vineyards in La Rioja, Aragon and Valencia too and at the end f the season it’s possible to pick a fair harvest for yourself without fear of reprimand. Not that I would though as there is plenty of wildlife who’ll make better use of the leftovers and they’re very sharp little things anyway.
Come June the dead looking stumps begin to blossom and the skeletal fields become a vibrant swathe of lush greens for the next few months as the grapes slowly form on the vines. Harvesting usually takes place around the end of September when the fields are full of workers and huge buckets full of the little purple grapes.
Seeing the process happen makes you appreciate how much effort goes into each and every bottle of Cava that gets sold so cheaply in other countries but it’s an aspect of Spanish culture which they’re fiercely proud of . We met complete strangers who didn’t even work the fields yet were gushing about the area they live in because of its most famous export.
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