Traveling for food goes hand-in-hand with wine and beer tastings. You can’t really have a well-rounded lunch or dinner without trying some of the local libations. It’s just as much of a part of the culture as the food is. During our three weeks in Catalonia, top on our list of things to do has been seeking out the must-visit wineries and breweries in Costa Brava.
You may not have heard much about this region of Catalonia — the Emporda Wine Region — but it is a fantastic place for wine tourism, especially in the Costa Brava region (also referred to as the Girona Province). Many of the wineries and breweries in the area offer some sort of tourism activity, from tastings and tours to lunches and even concerts among the vines. You will get a feel for the true spirit of Catalonia while visiting these producers, too. Catalonia has a very strong sense of heritage and culture that soaks through every aspect of life in this region.
It is pretty easy to visit the wineries and breweries of Costa Brava. They aren’t quite as easy to visit as in the U.S., where you can walk into just about any brewery or winery during open hours and do a tasting, but with a little effort, you can (and definitely should) add a few visits to your itinerary. (Click here for a full 7-day Costa Brava itinerary)
Obviously, we didn’t have a chance to try them all, but we did try a good number of them. Here are our recommendations.
Must-visit wineries and breweries in Costa Brava
Wineries to Visit in Catalonia
As I stated earlier, we were not able to visit all of these DOs. We mostly spent our time in the Girona Province, which for wine means the Emporda DO. In Catalonia, you’ll also find many robust wine growing regions that all have their own unique flavor and terroir. Hopefully we’ll be able to visit those areas soon, but for now we’ll focus on Emporda.
One of our favorite wineries in Empordà is La Vinyeta. It’s so much more than a winery. They have truly embraced every aspect of the land where their vineyard is planted. They make wine, of course, but they also make honey, vinegar, eggs and various other products that flow naturally from the wine business. We loved all their wines, but the Mig Mig was a particular favorite, along with the easy drinker, Llavors, which paired perfectly with sausage and cheese from the area.
Another favorite winery to visit is Mas Estela. At the winery, you can walk around the vineyards, see the cellar and the aging of the area’s sweet wine, and taste a few of their organic wines. Their Vinya Selva de Mar 2007 and 2008 are fantastic, and such incredible value! Email for an appointment. By the way, they also have a rental apartment, if you’re interested in staying among the vines.
On the way back to Roses or Cadaques, you’ll come across another great winery you should stop at called Martin Faixo. Read about this winery from the eyes of 2foodtrippers.com.
You cannot find another winery with as unique a design as Celler Brugarol. Designed by a pair of Olot architects, the winery is built completely underground. There is very little natural light that pours into the space, to keep the wines in a dark and quiet environment. As you walk slowly through the maze of steel beams, with only a small runner light to guide your way, you will be stunned at how beautiful and unique it is. You can make an online reservation to visit the winery on their website.
Like many of the wineries in the Emporda wine region, Mas Oller’s goal is to return to the winemaking traditions of the past with the modern techniques that are now available to them. Their location combines sea and mountain, a concept that is very embraced in Catalonia. They have three red varieties: Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, and two white varieties: Picapoll and Malvasia de Sitges on their 17 hectares. You can schedule a visit and tasting on their website, as well as see other opportunities available to tourists.
Micro Breweries in Catalonia
There are quite a few micro breweries in Catalonia now, stretching from south of Barcelona to the Pyrenees in the north. This list represents the breweries that we tried that are really worth a visit, both for the beer and for the brewers. Everyone we met was so nice and helpful, and they have a genuine love for what they’re doing. You have to understand that the beer that is typical to Catalonia for the last few decades, at least, has been mass produced, factory beer like Estrella Damm and Moritz – basically flavorless beer served in little glasses. The microbrew movement didn’t start to hit the area until the 2000s, and though it’s been slow to take off, it’s definitely changing the way people think about and drink beer in Catalonia.
Marina is located in Blanes along the Costa Brava. It was founded by two brothers who had a love for homebrewing and found they could expand their hobby into a business and start selling their microbrews. They make quite a large selection of beer, from a lighter summer ale to a Devil’s IPA with lots of hoppy bitterness. They also collaborate often with other companies to make one-time-only special beers. To make an appointment for a walk around the brewery and a tasting in Blanes, email or call in advance. They do speak English. Website
Another brewery to visit in Blanes is Popaire. We were fortunate enough to try their beers on top of the tower in Marimurtra Botanical Gardens, a really gorgeous setting for a beer tasting, I must say! Unfortunately though, it’s not their typical tasting location. You can visit them in a shop in the city center, where they’ll tell you all about the brewing process and give you a tasting through their beers. They have a great line up, including . To make an appointment, email [email protected] in advance. Website
Another venture that was started as a homebrewing hobby has turned into a successful microbrewery. Minera takes its name from the local mining tradition, where many of the townspeople worked. Their logo design came from the old mining company logo. They said they’ve even aged their beer in the mine! At Minera, you’ll find a hefeweizen, a California ale, a “red” ale, and a really delicious Imperial Porter. If you’re lucky, they’ll have already started a tourism opportunity to hike the local mountain and enjoy a beer tasting at the top, which they were telling us about when we visited. Email in advance for an appointment: [email protected]. Their website is all in Catalan, but you can use Google to translate. Website
Lo Vilot recognized the need to produce local hops and barley in order to brew beer in Catalonia that stays true to the “0”km slow food movement initiative that requires all ingredients to be from within the region for certification. Since they weren’t able to find local hops, they decided to begin growing these products themselves with the goal of becoming certified. Their list of beers includes an IPA and a Scottish Ale. To plan a visit, fill out their online contact form. Website.
One of the bigger breweries in the area is Montseny. Cervesa del Montseny organizes tours and beer tastings at its microbrewery at Sant Miquel de Balenyà, Seva in Barcelona on pre-selected Saturdays. The tour takes you through the brewing process and ends with a tasting and a chance to purchase their beers. And there are quite a few unique beers to try, including the seasonal winter ale, Hivernale. To schedule a visit, sign up on their website.
As you can see, there are plenty of wineries and breweries in Costa Brava to visit. You’ll be able to see first hand the traditions and respect for the heritage and the land that these producers put into their creations by visiting them yourself. Plus, it’s just great wine and beer! Who can ask for anything more.
A big thank you to the Costa Brava Tourism Board for introducing us to these fantastic breweries and wineries throughout Catalonia and the Costa Brava area. See all the coverage of our trip to Costa Brava in Catalunya.