Going into our first excursion, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew nothing about wine and olive oil production, and I was excited to learn more. As the day progressed, I realized how far removed I am from the production of the foods that I purchase and consume regularly.

After a scenic ride through the Penedès region, the first stop was the Eudald Massana Noya winery. We met our guide, Albert who exuded passion for winemaking, since his family has been in the industry for generations. The tour began on the grounds where Albert explained the process of growing and harvesting grapes. We headed inside to look at how the grapes are produced into wine. I was surprised to learn how many factors affect the taste of the wine: the age of the vine, how long wine is aged in the barrel, and the type of wood the barrel is made. Albert shared that 2 out of 3 bottles produced in the Penedès region is exported.

One of the many grape vines at the vineyard. They are pruned to be this exact shape to be harvested

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the first machine the grapes pass through that removes the leaves and prepares them to be rinsed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vineyards like this stretch all over the Catelonia region from the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees Mountains

At the olive oil production center, Ca la Madrona, Antonio showed us the facility that has been in his family. The center featured a new style of making olive oil, which uses efficient machinery. We also toured the old facility that requires more time and labor. I wondered why they continue to use the old method. Even though he doesn’t speak English, Antonio spoke with pride how the old method produces a better flavor.

This is the beginning of the “new” method of making olive oil where the olives are brought up the conveyor belt and crushed in the large machine

This is how the olives are crushed in the “old” method. The large stones rotate and crush them as they come in on the conveyor.

The different olive oils we sampled. Some from the old method, and from the new method an organic variety and a regular one.

Unlike the wine, most of the olive oil stays in Catalonia, causing a direct relationship with consumers. I realized how much pride both of these producers have in their product, which is not typically seen in the US. When I return home, I will try and shop for more local products since I now understand the pride and tradition of these small, local producers.