This time, in our #ExperienceOfTheWeek series, it’s all about wine. You like it already? Wait until you read more about the incredible three — Eric, Ignasi, and Ramon — the co-founders of Artcava, the beautiful winery in the heart of Penedès Valley, Spain. It’s no secret that we’re fond of all wine tours you’ll find on Tripduck, however, when someone puts their all heart into what they’re doing, we love their tours even more. Let’s hear the story of Artcava, shall we?
Q1: Hi Eric, how are you doing?
Hi there! I’m fine, wishing for Covid to end and having visitors and friends visiting us again, we’re really bored.
Q2: Tell us more about Artcava. Where did the idea come from?
We are three partners here at Artcava: Eric, the winemaker, and wine taster; Ignasi, the one who looks after the business side of things (someone has to); and Ramon, the foodie, a bit more than in the early thirties ( we call him the Gran Reserve). We opened the doors of Artcava in 2004. One evening chatting over a bottle of cava we came up with the idea. Well, everything starts with an idea but in our case, with a lot of hard work and determination, our idea has developed into a wonderful reality.
Ignasi´s family had been cultivating grapes and making wine since 1730, but the old winery had been abandoned for the last 50 years and it was slipping into a state of disrepair. That´s when we decided to breathe some life back into its old walls. We set to work restoring the place being careful not to lose its rustic charm. Our intention was not to build a high tech super modern winery but to acknowledge and respect the past. We wanted to fuse the past with the present.
And when we say past, we really do mean the past. We know from archeological excavations that the Iberians made wine on the very site where Artcava stands today. You may wonder who the Iberians were, well let´s just say they were settlers in Catalonia before the Romans got here some 2,700 years ago. So considering wine has been produced in this region for the last 2,700 years we have had more than enough time to perfect our art.
Q3: Penedès is one of the most important wine regions in Europe and I bet there are dozens of places to experience as a wine lover. How big is your team and where exactly are you based?
We’re in the heart of the Penedès Valley, in the best lands for growing grapes, rich in clay and nutrients. Our winery is in Avinyonet del Penedès, known as the origin of grape farming quite 3000 years ago.
As I told you before, that means 45 min from Barcelona city center by car or by train (we are at 5min from a local train station), and less than 10 min from Vilafranca del Penedès, the Catalan wine capital, so yes, we are in a perfect location, also surrounded by a sea of vineyards and guarded by Montserrat Mountains.
Q4: Your selection of experiences is all about the best things – you offer everything from vineyard visits to food tastings. What are the most popular activities among travelers who book with you?
Here at Artcava, we make every effort to avoid mass tourism which many of the larger wineries attract. We are not interested in churning out a memorized tour to busload upon a busload of visitors. We prefer to apply the philosophy of “slow travel” and we pride ourselves on our personal, informal, and friendly manner.
If you come to visit us you will find we are young, enthusiastic and completely in love with our work (so much so that we can hardly call it work). We can guarantee that one of the three of us always does the tours and workshops personally. Whether you come to get a hands-on demonstration on how cava is made, make your own bottle of cava, or do a food workshop learning to make sumptuous local specialties, or simply just to sit under the thousand-year-old olive tree with a cold glass of bubbly, we promise you will leave with a warm heart, a smile on your face and even some new friends (and as an added bonus, the chances of waking up with a hangover are slim as our cava is chemical free).
We really suggest the “Create Your Own Cava” activity with a lunch option. A wine and food in a 13-century farmhouse – what else do you need?
Q5: Today many people travel and plan their itineraries on their own. Barcelona, one of the most popular destinations in Europe, is actually only 40 minutes away from the region of Penedès. Why would you recommend making a stop at your vineyard?
At Artcava, there is never any rush. Visits and workshops take as long as they need. We can never give you a precise time when you will leave. Chances are you will not even feel time go by. If you are in no hurry then neither are we. We enjoy nothing more than meeting people from all over the world and sharing with them our traditions. It’s taken 2,500 years to develop the knowledge we now have of wine and cava making, so we have learned to respect the slow passing of time.
People constantly tell us that we have surpassed their expectations and that they loved the experience and getting to know us. At first, we could hardly believe all the positive feedback. Surely it couldn´t be that easy to make people happy! All we do is what we love and share our enthusiasm and passion with others. But as the positive feedback continued we realized that yes it was that simple and work could indeed be that pleasurable. We never get too complacent and it still always makes us tremendously happy every time we receive a great recommendation on our partner sites or Facebook fanpage.
Sure you will find other tours in wineries much bigger and flashier than Artcava for a cheaper price, but we guarantee that what you won’t get in other wineries is the same personal touch. And of course, you won´t get us. The experiences we offer are real: we keep our feet firmly planted on the ground and over the last 10 years have been getting better and better at just being us. And it works!
If as Catalans we say that Catalonia is not Spain, we also like to say that Artcava is not the same as other wineries.
Q6: With 2021 finally being here, and hopefully the travel industry rebounding, do you have any new exciting plans? New ideas?
We’re working on a new patio concept, with street food, building a wine bar in a recycled ship container, hipster styling, so we would like to improve the gastronomical side of the business. And let’s see further if we can build some lodge rooms in the middle of the vineyards. Wine, food, and accommodation are on our plans.
Q7: Last but not least, what is YOUR favorite wine? Tips from a true connoisseur are always worth it 🙂
Well, it’s hard to say… I love regions like Alsace and some New Zeland plots, but If I need to say some wines:
– White wine – Viña Gigi Chardonnay (Jean Leon) DO Penedès
– Red wine – Ferrer i Bobet Old Vines – DOQ Priorat
– Sparkling – Turó d’en Mota Recaredo – Corpinnat Penedès
– Special – Any Port wine (Oporto)
– Super special – My rarities sparkling selection – ARTCAVA (DO CAVA) Penedès