While vacationing in California, my parents dragged me to join them on several wine tasting tours where we learned about the history, production and different types of wine. Too young to sip on the delicacies that the vineyards offered, I felt like my experience was a waste of knowledge if I couldn’t participate. I gave up on the tours, having no further interest in learning about the extensive production of wine, I camped out in the car instead. In my mind, I believed that this experience was just another touristy attraction that couples do on vacation.

Going into the wine and oil excursion with an open mind and willingness to learn something new made my experience an eyeopening one. We started our day at the Eudald Massana Noya vineyard, where our tour guide and farmer, Albert, introduced us to the history of wine and its significance to Spain. I’ve never heard of Cava until that day. I learned that it is a sparkling wine from Catalonia and is an important part of Catalan and Spanish family tradition. Albert walked us through the process of making wine, starting from a vine tree and harvesting the grapes, to the fermentation and the bottling process. Listening and watching Albert explain the details and rich history of wine, I saw his passion for doing what he loves.

Finishing the wine tour with a tasting of cava and moscat, we visited the olive oil production site in Ca La Madrona. Albert introduced us to Antonio who showed us an intimate view of how he produces olive oil. To this day, both the old and the new methods of producing olive oil are used. Antonio explained that the new production of olive oil gives a more sweet taste versus the old method which creates a less bitter taste. Although he does not prefer one method over another, he does agree that the most updated processing is more efficient. In one hour, up to 3,000 kilos of olives are processed.

This excursion reminded me of the summer days I would spend with my family driving out to Michigan to buy fresh vegetables, eggs and the opportunity to pick our own fruit. We have three farms that we specifically visit on the weekends and have seen how the farmers grow their food. Similarly to the wine and oil, we buy these products because they are organic and locally grown. I can taste the difference of quality of these goods from the farmlands compared to grocery bought products. The wine and olive oil excursion made me realize how important the quality of food is in a desired lifestyle of staying healthy.

In the 1850’s, phylloxera disease was accidentally introduced to Europe when botanists collected specimens of American vines. Because phylloxera is native to North America, the native grape species are at least partially resistant. This disease caused the Great French Wine Blight and damaged a wide array of Europe’s vineyards.

This image shows the base of the grape vine that is grafted. Following the phylloxera outbreak, two French wine growers, suggested the possibility that if vinifera vines could be combined, by grafting, with the phylloxera-resistant American vines, then the problem might be solved. This method worked and is still used until this day.

Our tour guide Albert, explaining the process of harvesting the grapes to start fermentation in the two machines. Did you know that white wine can be made from red grapes? As long as the grape juice does not come into contact with the skins, white wine will be produced.

The final step of wine processing is corking, labeling, packaging and marketing. In about 8 hours, 5,000 bottles are prepared. Albert gave us a quick run through of each station. I was amazed at how efficient one worker can be.

This machine is Antonio’s most updated method of processing olives. After cleaning and separating the olives from branches, they enter this machine which turns the olives into a paste and then separates the olive oil from the paste.

At the end of our tour, Antonio and Albert prepared us an olive oil tasting. There were three different kinds, organic, non-organic and Antonio’s special oil. He surprised us with our own bottle of olive oil to enjoy back in America. How cute are these pups?