Wine and Culture Route in the Priorat
Distance from L’Hospitalet de l'Infant: Falset: 40 km
Type of activity: Sight-seeing, wine-tasting, culture, hiking
Time required: one day
 

Wine and Culture Route in the Priorat

Why not slow down and take some time to discover the cultural heritage and natural treasures of this hideaway, far away from the bustle of modern life? The Priorat is a land of steep vineyards, harsh cliffs and imposing rocks, hidden valleys and deep ravines – wild, untouched nature alternating with well-ordered cultivated landscapes.
 
The Priorat region north of Falset is best known today for its wine tradition. World-famous wines  that enjoy the quality mark of D.O.Q. (Denominación de Origen de Qualidad) are produced here and exported all over the globe.  Priorat is one of only two wine regions in Spain to qualify as DOC (Denominacion de origen controlada), the highest qualification level for a wine region according to Spanish wine regulations, alongside Rioja. The wine making tradition started with the Cistercian monks who settled here and who gave the region its name (prior of a monastery).  Discover the region as you leisurly travel from winery to winery, stopping to admire the landscape and listening to ancient tales of wine-making.
  
Wine Tasting Tours in Priorat

Wine Tasting Tours

The area is of volcanic origin, which confers interesting characteristics to the soil. The basis (called llicorella in Catalán) comprises reddish and black slate with small particles of mica, which reflects the sunlight and conserves heat. The 50 cm thick topsoil is formed of decomposed slate and mica. These characteristics force the roots of the vines to reach the base for water and minerals. These soil characteristics confer special quality to the wine and keep the vines firmly anchored to the earth during strong winds.
 
Even though Priorat DOQ covers a small area, there are several different micro-climates present. Generally, the climate is more extreme than in most areas with continental climate, though there is a marked difference between the valleys and the higher altitudes. There are both freezing winds from the north (mitigated somewhat by the Montsant mountain) and also the warm Mistral wind from the east. Summers are long, hot and dry (max. temperature 35°), while winters can get quite cold (min temperature -4°C). The average annual rainfall is 400–600 mm.
 
The traditional grape variety grown in El Priorat is the red Garnacha Tinta, which is found in all the older vineyards. Also authorised are the following red varieties: Garnacha Peluda, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Four white varieties are also authorized: Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximénez, and Chenin.
 
The trend among the red varieties is that Garnacha stays constant, Cariñena decreases and the international grape varieties increase. While Cabernet Sauvignon has always been in the lead among these, in recent years, Syrah has increased faster.
 
Yields are rather low, usually much lower than the authorized maximum yield of 6,000 kg/ha, due to the rocky nature of the soil, which inhibits the accumulation of water. The vines are usually planted as low bushes (en vaso) though the newer vineyards tend to be planted on trellises (en espaldera).
 
Explore the fascinating art of winemaking, come and taste some of the best wines the region has to offer, as local wineries open their doors to you. The Priorat Regional Tourist Office organizes visiting hours in 23 Priorat and 9 Montsant wineries. These wineries share their excellent wines with you whilst showing you where they are producing wine for the future. You may plan your tour of wineries more in detail by consulting the following link http://www.turismepriorat.org/en/what-to-do/wine-route
 
Wine Tasting Tours

As you travel from winery to winery at a leisurly pace, you will soon notice that there is more than wine in the Priorat. Take a road off the beaten track and discover this beautiful countryside with its natural wonders and cultural treasures!  See our suggestions for hiking and sightseeing, e.g. Montsant Mountain Range and Siurana.