This will be a very tasty journey to the essence of oil culture, where you can also take in the local cuisine, ancient landscapes and historic buildings.
The Costa Daurada and the land around Lleida and the Ebre delta are the backdrop to a brace of activities including cultural routes, gastronomic routes, tours to oil mills and samplings of several varieties -each oil featuring its own special bouquet and body- showing you the inside story of this liquid gold.
Places of great beauty await you, where you can appreciate the benefits of one of the oldest symbols of the history of mankind: olive trees and their natural juice.
A journey into Catalan culture that will delight all the senses!
Step back to a time when everything revolved around the vines
See all that the Priorat region has to offer in a weekend experience combining wine tourism, oil tourism and stunning architecture
(Gratallops, Costa Daurada)
Travel through time via the flavour of an ancestral land where life is unhurried, and discover the essence of DO Montsant and DOQ Priorat.
Soak up the history of the old cooperatives with a tour of the Vinícola del Priorat winery in Gratallops and the Cornudella Cooperative Winery built by Cèsar Martinell* in the 1920s, considered a cathedral to wine well deserving of a visit. Find out how the Arbequina variety of DOP Siurana extra virgin olive oil is made at the Molí Nou de la Vilella Alta mill and the way producers have preserved the ancient winegrowing legacy of the land. Visit stunning vineyards and olive groves in a four-wheel drive, sample organically farmed goods and stop off at the late fifteenth-century Sant Joan del Codolar hermitage that has been lived in for more than 40 years.
Stay in a rural property in the heart of Priorat and, if you have time, lose yourself in the treasures tucked away in the beautiful town -perched on a cliff’s edge- of Siurana. The town was a Cathar refuge and preserves legends such as that of Princess Abdelazia or the story of the prisoner who sheltered Charles of Anjou. We also recommend a trip to Vilella Baixa, dubbed ‘the New York of the Priorat’ by writer Josep Maria Espinàs for the houses that tower over the Scala Dei ravine.
*A curious fact about Cèsar Martinell is that he had the habit of turning up to see how work on the winery was progressing and would bring his chauffeur with him, since the employees would invite him to taste the wine they were making and he would politely accept. The chauffeur, of course, was strictly forbidden from touching a drop, lest the car were to plunge off the cliffs on the way home. Martinell also built the Cafè Manyé in Falset (where there is another cooperative winery he designed) and this is where he would go to drink the wine from the winery.
Oil, wine and friends get better with time
Organic winegrowing plus art and the finest oil from Les Garrigues
(L’Albagès, Terres de Lleida)
Enjoy a magical weekend in the leading oil region in dry farming land where you can take in all the sensations afforded by this area studded with vineyards and olive trees.
Art speaks to you of wine in Catalonia! See for yourself when you visit the Mas Blanch i Jové winery at La Pobla de Cérvoles, sample the wines made in the nearby mountains that have been awarded the DO furthest from the sea (Costers del Segre) and delight your senses with a stroll around the ‘vineyard of the artists’. A true open-air museum where you can enjoy pairing Catalan craft wine with locally sourced produce in the company of works by Josep Guinovart, Joan Brossa, Evru, Gregorio Iglesias, Carles Pazos, Esteve Casanoves and Eva Lootz, among others.
If you go with the kids they’ll feel right at home in the dedicated children’s games area.
You can also discover how oil is made at Cal Pastor: an old shepherd’s dwelling surrounded by silence where you can enjoy a route through the vineyards and olive groves and learn the features of this fruity, full-bodied oil that is sweet on the palate.
After sampling it*, take the chance to visit this extraordinary landscape on a stunning bicycle route. A fun and healthy way to take in the Roman village of La Granadella, where you set the pace and which will end with a picnic of local produce.
You will also have the chance to dine at Els Fogons de la Carme – a family restaurant with food based on typical Catalan cuisine given a modern touch, salads featuring extra virgin olive oil from Cervià and the finest wine in the comarca so you can learn more about the land through your palate.
A privileged outing far from the urban jungle, where you can discover places you won’t find in official guides and which you will remember for the might of the land and the panoramic views.
*If you didn’t already know it, professional oil tasters use an official cobalt-blue glass adapted to the hand (on contact it releases an even heat across the base), providing maximum steadiness so the oil cannot spill and enabling its full bouquet to be conserved inside. The colour is to stop the taster from seeing the oil so they can give an objective, quality assessment.
Let the shapes, colours, scents and tastes of Ulldecona seduce you
The best-kept secrets of Montsià: the olive groves, medieval castle and rock art
(Ulldecona/Terres de l’Ebre)
Experience a fascinating history lesson in the south of Catalonia! The day kicks off with a guided tour of the medieval Catalan castle of Ulldecona, declared a Property of Cultural Interest and inhabited by different civilisations from the 8th century BC. Identify vestiges from the great historic periods of the people who lived there – Iberian, Greek and Roman settlements over which the Muslims ruled for centuries, leaving important footprints – and discover one of the most emblematic landscapes in the country.
Learn how ancient traditional farming has survived the passage of time with a tour of the Arión farmstead, which has its origins in Roman times. You will find the astonishing cultural and natural heritage of Fargues d’Arión – the largest concentration of ancient olive trees anywhere in the world, of stunning shapes and sizes – in addition to the oldest tree in Catalonia, standing for 1,700 years and measuring eight metres in perimeter, recognised as a monumental tree.
Finish up at Molí de la Creu, in La Galera, where you can partake of a gastronomic sampling, tasting the homegrown oil onsite which the Porta Farré family makes from unusual local varieties.
The cultural journey ends at the World Heritage-listed rock art complex of Ulldecona, where Neolithic hunters depicted scenes from their hunts. The route around the different shelters of the Pietat hermitage, used as a meeting place to hold rituals and where most of the paintings are part of what is known as Levantine art, will leave you speechless.
And to round off your adventure, stop off at the famous Cova de les Bruixes, or Witches’ Cave, in the Godall mountains, in the gully of the same name.*
*Officially it was a refuge inhabited by shepherds but it is always interesting to learn the legend, which in this case is of a cave frequented by witches where they would perform certain spells.
Sample the oil from the first olives of the season!
Premium DOP Siurana oil and high-end Catalan wine in the Montsant mountain range
You will see for yourself that the wine and oil paths do not give up their secrets easily when you stroll among the olive trees before sampling the oil on offer at Celler Masroig in this combined wine tourism and oil tourism experience.
The largest DO Montsant winery with a hundred years of history to its name invites you to focus on the finer details, share sensations and, if you wish, supplement your visit with a wander through the vineyards, the winery facilities, the stone oil press, the ancient vats, the production room and the barrels of wine in a setting of immense beauty.
DOP Siurana* oil is a golden elixir of great value with which you can experience the pleasure of dipping oil in bread. You will do so by sampling its oli del raig, or first oil of the season, that everyone is talking about, and its filtered oil. An explosion of flavours in the mouth (with a green almond and apple fragrance) that is fruity, sweet and slightly spicy and which your taste buds will long remember.
And, in case you didn’t know, as well as being an essential ingredient in Catalan cuisine and the Mediterranean diet and a source of good health, olive oil can also be used to remove tough stains from clothes by making it into a paste with flour, or mixed with ash to clean cutlery. How cool is that?
*The small, round Arbequina olive from this region has been harvested for over 3,000 years and experts consider the extra virgin olive oil it produces to be among the best in the world thanks to its extremely high quality.