El Priorat in Tarragona Province is recognised internationally for its first class rich & full bodied vintage wines.
Priorat is one of the most thrilling wine regions in Spain
This a magical hidden corner of Catalonia. The walking is at a relaxed pace, easy to negotiate and offers lots of surprises - the landscape, traditions and flavours. It's located by Catalonia's stunning Montsant Nature Park, the Sacred Mountains which offer a stunning backdrop to your walking holiday. The secret of the wines of the Priorat, lies in the special quality of it's licorella soils which are the key to producing a rich, full bodied vintage.
Priorat is just a couple of hour's train ride from the heart of Barcelona. The pace here is relaxed and you can take your time to traverse this landscape from south to north, enjoying the wine the food and the scenery. A walk, wine and dine tour of the Priorat truly is a pleasurable journey of easy exploring and delicious discovery.
Our Priorat Experience
Our self guided walking tour can start on any day of the week to fit in with your arrangements. El Priorat region is just south of Tarragona and inland from the Mediterranean. Surrounded on all sides by precipitous cliffs the area is formed of light micro climate ground, a temperate zone ideal for cultivation of vines. From the southern plains surrounding Falset with groves of Hazelnuts and a mix of arable and vines to Vineyards dotting the landscape clinging tenaciously to terraced slatey slopes. The holiday ends on a high in the once fiercely defended hilltop Moorish village Siurana. The magnificent views over the whole of the Priorat and as far as the sea give you a privileged overview of the landscape you have traversed.
As well as bed and breakfast accommodation, we include a meet and greet my our local walking guide at the local railway station Falset. One day of walking is guided. You will be staying in 4 different hotels, to show you the different parts of the region. The hotels are chosen for location, hospitality and good food and wine in house.
You have the option to visit as many wineries as you wish during your trip. You have the option to book these winery tours in advance or as you go through your hoteliers. It is easy to self guide around the area as we provide you with easy to follow walking notes and details of the wineries and olive oil producers that you can visit.
Experience The Priorat as you Walk, Wine and Dine
We have combined delightful vineyard walking tours, expert led wine tasting & tuition with superb fine dining and a kitchen experience in one of the most stunning settings to be found in Catalonia. Whether you fancy yourself as a wine aficionado or not - everyone can find joy and inspiration in the glass and on the plate.
Given the precipitous lie of the land, the Priorat's bodegas are mostly small scale with very low yielding vines that also result in a concentration of alcohol content. Vintages are continually attracting international acclaim and high prices. Here in their land of origin, many of these vintages are relatively inexpensive and absolutely delicious.
The entire Priorat region covers only about 4,400 acres and seems quite remote from the big dazzling citiy of Barcelona. Characterised by villages and hamlets, you'll find a timeless landscape of old stone farmhouses, monasteries and ruins. The valleys are planted with neat rows of vines and many of the mountain slopes impressively terraced. Priorat wineries tend to be small in scale, as the landscape does notlend itself to intensive machine production. These winemakers work by hand with a typical winery producing around 5,000 bottles a year.
The landscape with it's roads that wind through vineyards between towns and villages, make this a relatively remote destination for tourists who focus on the coast and urban charms of Barcelona.
Day 1 -El Priorat awaits!
Arrival by train or taxi to the peaceful private house hotel set in a landscaped garden and vineyard. Meet and greet by our local guide. Country House Hotel.
Day 2 -Discover the vineyards of D.O. Montsant
Local circular walk through vineyards and hazlenut groves from Marça to Capçanes and back. Visit and tasting at local vineyard specialising in kosher wines.
13kms. +250m climb. Country House Hotel.
Day 3 - Into the 'Wolf's Lair
Short transfer to the nearby town of Falset, capital of the Priorat and Monsant region. Linear walk crossing the Siurana river through vines and native woods to your next base in the small village of Gratallops. Wine tasting at local bodega.
8.5kms. +300m. Village Boutique Hotel.
Day 4 - Muleteer's and Olive groves
Local circular walk using ancient cobbled paths that take in the stunning views over the Priorat.
17kms. +600m. Village Boutique Hotel.
Day 5 - On Holy Ground
Linear walk past the ruins of Scala Dei monastery to the village of Morera del Montsant.
15kms. +650m. Village Hotel.
Day 6 - Where Eagles Fly and Hermits Dwell
Guided linear walk through the Montsant Nature Park. Breathtaking views over the entire Priorat region, all the way to the mediterranean sea. Wine tasting en route. Gentle climb to the cliff top village of Siurana.
15.5km. +650m. Village Boutique Hotel.
Day 7 - Of Moorish Princess's last leaps!
Half day circular walk. Afternoon kitchen experience with renowned contemporary chef. Evening tasting "desgustacion" menu.
Village Boutique Hotel.
Day 8 -Transfer by taxi to Reus airport, or train station for return to Barcelona.
The Ruins of Scala Dei
The C12th Monastery of Scala Dei, located in the foothills of the Montsant mountain range, was home to a group of Carthusian monks until 1835. During the seven centuries in which the monks lived there, they taught the locals different farming techniques, including cultivating vines on the steep slate-based slopes of the area. The word Priorat derives from the term for the lands and villages owned by the priory of Scala Dei. The ruins of this monastery are impressive and well worth a visit during your walking tour.
"Escaladei" means "ladder of God", an apt name considering the worn, stair-like layers of sedimentary rock that characterise the cliffs towering over the monastery. The monastery was the economic hub of the region and had jurisdiction over nearby towns. When the government seized church property in 1835, a surge of anti-clerical sentiment was released, and the building was sacked and burned by locals who used the stone to repair their homes. The remaining archways, which once housed gates to keep the world outside at bay, now frame the striated rocks that first inspired the Carthusians to settle here. The order was self-sufficient, and the monks, cloistered in their cells, shared a small kitchen garden. Small consolation for being poor, celibate and silent.
The best wines from this region are now recognised as some of Spain's most sophisticated and sought-after reds. The Priorat's secret is it's ancient, spectacular terroir. Antique terraced hillside vineyards with slate and mica soils and old Garnacha vines are the main elements of the Priorat magic.
Today's wine producers are ambitious and quality-conscious, determined to produce the best wines the terroirs permit. Garnacha (Grenache) and Cariñena (Carignan) are the signature grape varieties, with the international influences of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. There are also good whites and rosé offerings. The Falset-Marçà Agrícola cellar was designed by César Martinell, a friend of Antoni Gaudí- he of Familia Sagrada fame. (Falset is actually in Montsant, another, larger, wine region that entirely surrounds Priorat.) This is where vi ranci is made. Translated as "rancid wine", it could be called Catalan sherry. Made in great glass demijohns, the wine oxidises in the sun, the colour of the fruit almost entirely dulled by the sun's rays. Older vintages are racked in with younger vintages in a solera-style system. The result is a more robust version of amontillado.
"Traditionally, most houses made vi ranci," says Neus Miró. She's a vivacious woman and a good cook, and she owns a disused olive mill, which she's turned into a produce store called El Moli d'Oli in Escaladei. She sells her husband's vi ranci and vins dolços (Muscat-like wines) as well as oil and handmade pastries such as orelletes, or ears, half the size of an A4 sheet of paper, covered in delicate bubbles where the pastry blistered as it was deep-fried before being dusted with icing sugar. "Traditionally, you always had a bottle of wine near the front door of the home," she says. "You'd pour a glass for the visiting priest or doctor and offer them some nuts or some pastry."
Most Catalonians will tell you bread with tomato is the national dish. And often the simplest, most rustic foods are the most delicious. It;s certianly truly of the local crusty bread, rubbed with a clove of garlic and a small, thick-skinned tomato.
Traditional farming, preserving and cooking have endured in Priorat. The cuisine is rustic and hearty, based on seasonal dishes according to the available local produce. Garlic and paprika are popular seasonings. Fresh, local ingredients are the order of the day here, from the vegetable garden, local game such as boar and foraged wild asparagus and mushrooms.
Simplicity and honesty of the regional ingredients is reflected in the local cuisine - whether you're enjoying a simple lunch or fine dining at your hotel. Priorat has excellent fresh produce, full of flavour and a natural compliment to the locally sourced rabbit, quail and partridge. There is a rich variety of tomatoes, aubergine, spinach and chard, along with delicious almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts. Local olive oil is an integral part of the cuisine. Catalans also love cooking over open fire whether it's local lamb, fresh fish from the coast, paella, roasted peppers or the ubiquitous crema catalan dessert.
Mas Figueras x 2
Cal Llop x 2
Balco de Priorat x 1
Siuranella x 2
Your Priorat Hotels
We have chosen 4 hotels in the area, located to ensure you discover the best range of walking, food and wine experiences.
The first two nights are at Hotel Mas Figueres, a charming country house with its own winery. The peaceful surroundings offer rest, relaxation and wine culture in spectacular countryside. Mas Figueres can organize wine tastings and visits to different local wineries, such as Mas Martinet with a chance to sample the wonderful Clos Martinet. The wine tastings are accompanied by a tasting of local products. These additional tours are at extra cost.
The following 2 nights are at Cal Llops - a wine lovers hotel and restaurant in Gratallops. This is a quaint boutique hotel, ideally located to explore some 20 wineries within walking distance of the hotel which has been converted from an old stone building. The rooms have lovely views and are equipped to a high standard with mod cons. The rooms come with excellent continental breakfast, local jams and fresh coffee. The hotel's restaurant is La Boca del LLop serviing Catalan dishes made from local ingredients and paired with local wines.
Your 5th night is at the small Hotel Restaurant Balco del Priorat, tucked in at the foot of the village of La Morera de Montsant. The rooms are spacious, comfortable with stunning views over the Serra de Montsant and Siurana River valley.
Finally, you have 2 nights in Siuranella, a charming stone house in Siurana which has wodnerful views of the Montsant mountain range. The rooms are individually decorated with Wi-Fi, TVs and hardwood floors, plus some have balconies with mountain or village views. The hotel has a gourmet restaurant with a bar and a shared lounge with a fireplace, plus an outdoor pool and a terrace. You will have a special Priorat tasting menu here on your last night as part of your package.
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