At this time of the year people are either getting over Christmas or planning their holidays. Here in the wine region it is almost the same. The grapes have been picked, wines processed and festivals planned to celebrate the harvests. In the fields the rows of vines are being pruned and checked for problems, the ground fed and tidied. So most of the Cellers are closed for a breather whilst preparing for the coming summer and harvest.
Living in Catalunia’s wine region is a bit like being on holiday, lots to do but only a short period to do it in. However, as those of you who follow my writing will know I have been looking into not only the wines but the history of Cellers and villages in the regions. I live on the edge of the Priorat region, and have visited some of the Cellers there, but behind my Finca to the west lies the Terra Alta Region, the high country. This is the area which first started me on my journey into the wines of Catalunia, so, with visitors gone and the pruning of the olive trees under control, I turned my face westward, hitched up my wagon and headed out…
I decided to visit Gandesa which is the heart of the region, and has one of the Wine Cathedrals, a beautiful Celler built by one of Gaudie’s followers, and an architectural monument to fine wines. As you are driving West out of Mora D’Ebro you notice the road begins to climb, gently at first in a long gradual climb, then it becomes a more defined rise as you wend your way through the mountains towards Gandesa.
The first place you come to is Corbera D’Ebro, where a fierce battle was fought in the Civil War resulting in the village being raised, people left without food or proper shelter and bodies left lying in the streets. The people, some of whom had fled to the countryside for safety, gradually returned and began to build their lives. A new village was built at the foot of the old one and as this is a wine growing region a new Celler was raised out of the devastation. I wrote about this last year http://bit.ly/qvGwGd and mentioned that the old village is now a monument to all those who died, which can be visited and is a peaceful place where you can sit and contenplate both history and the scenery.
A further 5km on you approach Gandesa. As you enter the town on the left hand side you will see a large hotel with a very good restaurant, the car park always has vehicles in it which here means the food is good. Driving further into the town, the first thing you see is the Cellers wine shop then immediately behind this is the actual Celler.
I was delighted to see that the old Celler has been given a facelift with the outside fresh and gleaming in the sunlight. There is a very strong leaning towards heritage in the region and people are being encouraged to take care of and where possible restore their buildings.
This is the building I shall be visiting to find out the history of the wines and Celler in March, which is something I am looking forward to. There are some fine wines and Cava sold here, yes I am still on the Cava trail but there is a whole year for that.
On the opposite side of the road is the Civil War Meseum. You can park in the main road on the right hand side for free and usually outside the museum. Now I have not been this far for nearly a year maybe more, so I was very pleased to find that the museum was now open again, as it had been shut for renovation. This was not the only thing to delight me, the old Wine Cathedrel has been restored. It now has a nice new facade but work inside not yet completed. So as is my want history and wine combined I first visited the museum and found a light and spacious interior displaying artifacts of the Civil War from both sides, here there is a distinct bringing together of history, no taking sides too many lives were lost, just memories of a peoples war.
I have therefore made the Meuseum my first article which I hope you will enjoy reading the article and visiting both the Meuseum and Celler.