Cava Travels: Visiting the Cava Capital and Cavas Codorníu

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Fancy a glass of cava on a Sunday morning? Well yes please. A glass of sparkling wine is actually quite an appropriate way to start a Sunday; especially if you’re visiting a cava production house.

A visit to a cava winery was something we wanted to include in our Spain road trip. Around 95 % of all cava is produced in the Penedès area in Catalonia. We stayed in the town of Sant Sadurní d’anoia, the home of several of the biggest cava production houses in Spain, and visited the Codorníu winery.

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Before I’ll take you to the cava house I’ll say a few words about Sant Sadurní. It’s a small town around 50 kilometers Northwest of Barcelona. There is a train station if you are travelling by train and the autopista A-7 takes to Barcelona. The town itself is very peaceful and the most remarkable thing about it is that it’s at the center of the production of cava. The slightly odd thing is that there aren’t many hostels or hotels at all, despite the fact that there must be quite a lot of cava tourism in the area. We stayed at Hostal Sant Sadurni D’anoia (Calle de San Antoni, 99): it was very comfortable and the receptionist was friendly but the accommodation was quite pricy.

Our restaurant choice for dinner on that Saturday night was La Cava D’en Sergi (Valencia 17). The food was excelente, the service rather formal. They have a cava list three pages long.  A very recommendable place to sip some excellent cavas and to have a delicious meal.

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And then, let’s go to Cavas Codorníu. We had booked a guided tour in advance from the website. The place has a history dating back more than 450 years. After visiting the smallest winery of the Bardolino wine area last year in Italy we wanted to see a big production house now. And the Codorníu estate really is big. They used to make their own electricity for the winery and for the nearby village as well, and there are 30 kilometers of tunnels in the wine cellars. It’s a real underground maze. They’ve built a professional tourism institution to acquaint the visitors to the world of cava.

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We took the Codorníu visit, which included a quick tour in the winery garden, a visit to the Celler Gran museum and winery, a descent into the underground cellars and tasting of two cavas. The winery architecture is very elaborate and beautiful. I would have liked to learn more about the history of the Codorníu family and hence it was a pity that the speakers of our train (yes, they had trains) weren’t functioning. Our guide was friendly, well-prepared and efficient: quickly, come everyone, she led us forward. We learned for example, how cava is bottled and aged. The tour was in English, it lasted an hour and a half and the cost was 12 € per person. On weekends and on holidays the English tour starts at 10 am. A cava breakfast it is. It was worth the money and I enjoyed the visit. The tour is both about the premises and about cava itself. The grounds are beautiful and really well kept.

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A few tips for the visit. Be on time. A walk to the winery from the village takes 20 minutes. The tour starts exactly according to the timetable: first there’s a film in the movie theatre (yes, they have their own cinema) and then the group continues with a quick pace and takes the train. If you arrive late, you won’t be able to find the bunch on your own and you most likely wouldn’t be allowed to. Secondly, the restaurant/bar by the gift shop doesn’t really serve a proper lunch (there are small salty snacks) so if you haven’t booked the cava lunch package you have to head back to town for lunch.

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And that’s what we did. We spent a relaxed and sunshine filled Sunday strolling the streets of the town, enjoying a lunch at Cava Canals & Munne and espressos at the plaza.  And even spotted one cava factory being for sale, hmmm, shopping decisions / turning points of life…

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