The district of El Bages, in the heart of Catalonia, close to the Montserrat mountains, is an area with a long-standing tradition in wine-making.
The district of El Bages, in the heart of Catalonia, close to the Montserrat mountains, is an area with a long-standing tradition in wine-making. As far back as the 10th century, the monks from the Sant Benet de Bages monastery made wine. Following the phylloxera plague which affected the majority of Catalan vineyards in the late 19th century, this industry took up the reins again with the creation of the Celler Cooperatiu d’Artés in the early 20th century.
The Pla de Bages Designation of Origin was created in 1995 and groups together twelve local wine cellars. These wine cellars are primarily located in the towns of Manresa, Artés, Sant Fruitós de Bages, Fonollosa, Salelles and Maians
El Bages has a middle mountain Mediterranean climate, quite hard in the winter, with low rainfall. The undulating land and poor soil result in vines with a low production output, however with a grape of excellent quality.
Another characteristic feature of this area are the vineyard cabins. These constructions made of dry stone are used to store equipment and to provide shelter for the farmers and can be seen throughout the landscape in El Bages.
In this Designation of Origin, a native grape variety is grown; picapoll. It is a small grape with very tender skin and characteristic stains or marks. It is late in ripening and the wine made from it is fruity, bright yellow and light.
Apart from the picapoll variety, above all the tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, macabeu and chardonnay varieties are used. The red and rosé wines are fruity and aromatic, whilst the whites are light and exquisite.
In the El Flequer Valley, within the Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac Nature Reserve, a route covering five kilometres can be taken along which it can be discovered how the rabassaires (peasants who had a contract with the land owner that allowed them to cultivate the vineyards) transformed the landscape in order to cultivate it. If the vats used to make wine were normally inside the houses, here they are built on the mountainside. The route includes a visit to the exhibition on this subject in the Park's information centre.
Many of the wine cellars in the area offer guided tours of their facilities. This is the case of the wine cellars Abadal, Solergibert, Celler Cooperatiu d’Artés, or the Fargas-Fargas wine cellar, a rural house dedicated to the cultivation of vines where it is explained how this is done in harmony with the land.