Catalonia is located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain along the border of France. The region has always been a crossroads, changing hands between various empires and governments over the millennia while its heart, Barcelona, holds status as a crucial port and trade center. For centuries Barcelona has attracted not just conquerors and merchants but also various artists, architects, writers, and immigrants of all stripes from across the world. They have all left their mark on the region and the city of Barcelona, creating a vibrant and distinctive metropolis.
Catalonia’s wine tradition dates back to trade with the Phoenicians in the centuries before the Romans came to the area around 200 BCE. Even in those early days, Catalan wine was being exported across the Mediterranean, reaching markets as far as Egypt. Trade routes and export markets dried up following the fall of Rome and production all but ended in the following centuries under Moorish occupation. Slowly but surely winemaking traditions returned to the area, and by the fourteenth century, Catalonia would become known for the style of heavy, red wines that would gain international recognition for Priorat in the late twentieth century. In the latter half of the nineteenth-century cava, Spanish sparkling wine, was created in Penedès; vineyards decimated by phylloxera were replanted with white grapes for cava, and the style quickly gained popularity. Changes continue in Catalonia; today, Barcelona is famous for its food and wine scene and has become the epicenter of Spain’s cocktail revolution.