Located along the Mediterranean coast, Catalonia is best known as the birthplace of the sparkling wine Cava, which was invented in the early 1870s by Spanish winemakers. In addition, Catalonia includes an important red wine district: Priorat.
While the city of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is not officially in the wine-producing part of the region, it is still a significant player in the Catalan wine industry. It is both a key domestic consumer market for Spanish wines as well as an important port for exports. In addition, Barcelona is source of finance and investment for Catalan wineries, as well as a focal point for Spanish tourism.
Catalonia has a long winemaking tradition that pre-dates the arrival of the Romans. Several hundred years before the Romans, for example, the Phoenicians were trading Catalan wines with the Egyptians. In the modern era, Catalonia has helped to spark Spain’s emergence as a leading wine exporter. Sparkling Cava is now internationally known and respected.
In terms of grape varietals, the most popular white grape types include Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, while the most popular red grape types include Garnacha, Monastrell and Tempranillo. Most of the wines produced, though, are actually blends.
But by far the most popular wine type is sparkling Cava. From the perspective of overall wine production, sparkling wines are more important than the region’s dry white wines, which in turn, are more important than the region’s powerful red wines (sometimes referred to as “black wine” for their rich, dark color).
Due to its location, Catalonia has a Mediterranean climate.