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Catalunya, Europe’s most diverse region

Sitting in the northeast corner of Spain, Catalunya (Catalonia in Spanish) has a lot to be proud of: amazing architecture (Gaudi), food (El Cellar de Can Roca, the world’s no. 1-rated restaurant), art (Picasso, Miro, Dali), wine (Cava and still) and beauty (the whole region).

Barcelona, the capital, is nearly 2,000 years old. To me it seems modern, with its embrace of contemporary design, fashion and music. This youthful feel to Barcelona can be attributed to the post-Franco atmosphere.

Franco died in 1975. After his death, the Catalan language came back into popularity, the same time  businesses experienced growth and their lost freedom.

Success was around the corner. Creativity was freedom.

The history of Barcelona was explained to me on a recent visit by tour guide extraordinaire, Jordan Susselman of

Long considered by Madrilenos (inhabitants of Madrid) as the second-city of Spain, Barcelona, Catalunya’s first city, is said to have been founded four centuries before Rome by Hercules.

Sometime after the Punic War, Barcelona was rebuilt (third century) by famed Carthaginian, Barcas, who gave the city his family name.

The Roman Army used the town as a camp from late in the first century BC, until it was sacked by the Visogoths in the fifth century. The Moors conquered Barcelona in the eighth century.

Barcelona was transformed by the family of Charlemagne, son Louis specifically, and it thrived until Aragon and Cataluyna were loosely united by Barcelonian count Berenguer’s wedding to Petronila of Aragon.

Catalunya’s willingness to back the Hapsburgs in the War of Spanish Succession led to its loss of influence in Bourbon-ruled Spain.

Barcelona was really in an uncertain spot politically until its power as a textile and machinery center emerged in the mid-19th century.

Gauldi and Dali put their imprint on the cultural identity of the city, and Barcelona has been a serious contender for the first city of Spain since the middle of the 20th century.

The popularity of Barcelona and the Cataluyna region has grown to the point that only London, New York, Rome and Paris outshine it with tourists.

The region is known for its diverse climate and is home to numerous famous sub-regions. Cataluyna is an ideal region for growing grapes and making wine.

The coast is known for dry and hot summers and mild winters (Mediterranean climate). Inland it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter (Continental climate). The Pyrenees has a typical high mountain climate, cold and snowy, abundant rain fall and hot summers.

Since Roman times, Cataluyna has been home to wine. The Romans planted grapes near Tarragona, originally, as it was the Iberian capital at that time in history.

Grape growing spread throughout the region into the 19th century, when the Phylloxera crisis killed most of the red grapes in the region.

Fortunately for Cataluyna, Cava was replanted in the Penedes region. Cava is made from the Macabeo, Paralleda and Xarel-lo grapes. It is made the same way as Champagne using the Method Champanoise.

As of 2013, Catuluyna has 35 authorized grape varieties for wine making. As varied as the grapes are, so are the winemakers.

I have numerous favorite wineries and will share my top dozen wineries in Cataluyna with you: Pares Balta Winery, Summarrocca, Vinicola De Nulles, Torres Winery, Recaredo Winery, Torello Winery, Castillo De Perelada Winery, Castel Del Remei Winery, Castel D’Encus, Vall Llach, Llopart Cava and Scala Dei.

Their wines are all outstanding, reasonable in price and a must-buy for wines from Cataluyna.

Look for the wines of Cataluyna locally or online at

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Posted by on July 18, 2013. Filed under Columns,Food,Opinion,Wine and Beyond. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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