The small city of Sant Sadurní di Noia on the outskirts of Barcelona in Catalonia is the center of cava wine production and home of the world’s largest producer of all sparkling wine — Freixenet. Founded and still owned by the Ferrer family a century ago, it produced its first bottle of sparkling wine in 1914.
But behind this simple art deco facade is the headquarters for Freixenet International, which owns wineries in seven countries, including Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma Valley. Besides cava, Freixenet also produces other bubblies — Champagne in France, Prosecco in Italy and moscato in Spain — and makes premium table wines. But cava is its calling, and the limestone labyrinth of multi-level caverns beneath its headquarters has the capacity to store 3.5 million bottles of bubbly.
Recently, I was invited to visit the Ferrer’s and Freixenet, taste the new wines that will be coming to America this year, eat Catalan food, and take in the local attractions, including a home game featuring soccer giants FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi against Celta de Vigo.
No, I was not given the keys to the bubble car.
Freixenet CEO Pedro Ferrer welcomes us with a flute of rich, delicious 2005 Casa Sala, a luxury cuvée made by hand in celebration of the winery’s centennial.
Tapas are served with the Casa Sala, including a version of pà amb tomãquet, the ubiquitous Catalan tomato bread, here topped with grilled vegetables.