Monday, May 2, 2016

Catalunya, Spain - Wine Tourism Events at #IWINETC 2016

As specialists in wine tourism, it seemed like attending the International Wine Tourism Conference (#IWINETC) in Catalunya (Catalonia), Spain in April would be great way to network with and learn from the dynamic people in this industry. As expected it was truly a remarkable experience, and we look forward to attending next year's event in Sicily!

The main three days of the conference sessions took place at the Barcelona Golf and Spa Resort just outside of the city. Our hotel had beautiful views overlooking Montserrat and the golf course.

View from Barcelona Golf and Spa Resort

Golf Course Catalunya

We were able to take wonderful advantage of the fact were were positioned in the middle of cava country. On the first day, some of us broke up into groups that each visited a different cava producer. I attended a tour of Codorniu, and had an opportunity to sample some fantastic bubbles and view their exceptional representation of modernist architecture.

Codorniu Cava Producer

Modernist Architecture at Codorniu 

Taking the "train" through the cellars

Tasting delicious cavas!

Days 2 and 3 were comprised of so many wonderful presentations and workshops on topics such as SEO Masterclass for the Wine Tourism Industry, Wine Pairing with Flowers, How to Improve Experinces at a Winery Visit, and country-specific wine destinations such as Greece, Bulgaria, and Hungary. One of the highlights was the Grand Cava Tasting event in which 8 fantastic cavas were poured.

In the evenings, we had the most wonderful gala dinners at Freixenet and Torres where the incredibly prepared 5 course meals were paired perfectly with their cava, wine, and brandy offerings.

Freixenet Tour and Gala Dinner

Wearing wine on a necklace at Freixenet

Cava & Tapas tasting room at Freixenet

Menu & Pairing at Freixenet Gala Dinner

Torres Winery Tour & Gala Dinner


Tasting at Torres

Torres Winery Gala Dinner

Lunchtime and session breaks provided opportunities to taste and talk with other wine producers. One of my absolute favorite discoveries were the unique wines from Bodega SOMMOS in the Catalunya region. 

Sommos Wines

Grand Cava Tasting

Excellent wines from Hungary

When the conference came to a close, many participants split into groups of 10-15 guests where we ventured out on a 3-day familiarization trip around the region which were hosted by the Catalunya Tourist Board.

Our "fam" trip brought us on adventures through Terres de l’Ebre (DO Terra Alta) and Costa Daurada (DO Montsant/DOQ Priorat/DO Tarragona). We had some of the most amazing wines and cuisine, saw some spectacular scenery, visited delightful small villages, toured architecturally significant wineries, and attended an olive oil tasting presentation. 

"Cathedral of Wine"

Olive Oil Tasting

One of the most significant events was the mountain biking through some gorgeous countryside, ending at a beautiful creek between some craggy cliffs with yet another wine tasting!

After our wild biking adventure, we were surprised with an exceptional stroll (hike) through a beautiful vineyard in Priorat -- famous for their incredible wine offerings. Our reward after a hard day? Stunning views, delicious cava, and fresh strawberries.

The fantastic limestone soil which helps build the special terroir of this region

A lovely village with less than 50 residents, Siurana was perhaps my favorite part of this tour. Perched on top of a cliff, it is a haven for cyclists and mountain climbers. The vista and history make it a worthwhile stop on a visit to Catalunya.

Siurana, Spain

View of the river from the castle ruins in Siurana

Dessert art creation at the table

A few more pics from some other sites and winery visits.

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