The Penedès – the region that was Jean Leon’s adopted home – is an area of great diversity. That is why the Penedès Tourist Board is committed to raising the profile of some corners of the region that only a few people know about, but that are definitely worth discovering.
These different secrets come from both the public and private sphere, generate synergies between each other, and enable visitors to discover related and complementary ideas for ways to enjoy the region. The key figures in these different options are the residents of the Penedès themselves; the hosts who welcome visitors to their region. Today, we’re revealing a total of 10 secrets, selected following conversations, interviews, and meetings with all of the local key figures and other agents involved in the initiative.
This is just the beginning, though, since the challenge is for this action to remain current, so it will be able to stay open, alive, and to be adapted at any time to the new ideas put forward by the agents involved in the region and by all of the people or entities that want to do their bit.
These are the secrets of the Penedès that have been revealed up to now:
Bernat’s secret: I work the land with horses.
A team formed by a man and a mare plow the Penedès vineyards, home to a wide variety of terrains, different weather and farming methods. This is getting back to basics, when the work in the vineyard was done alongside animals, making the wines the result of a process connected to roots and nature.
Elisabeth’s secret: The Penedès cockerel.
Elisabeth breeds cockerels on her small farm, in a welcoming, family environment. These aren’t just any cockerels, but Penedès-breed cockerels that are native to the region. Together with other poultry farmers, she keeps this breed present in the region even today. This kind of cockerel is used as a basic ingredient in an iconic recipe: Penedès cockerel with plums and pine nuts.
Ton’s secret: The river path.
The idea of walking along the River Bitlles and the River Mediona always excites Ton and his sister Mariona: A path along these two rivers that passes by towns, forests, churches, and castles; a route where you can enjoy nature and the Penedès landscape, either on foot or by bike.
Vicenç’s secret: Admiring the Penedès from a giant chair.
The Penedès landscape can be admired from many perspectives. But for Vicenç, there’s one that’s really special: from high up on a chair. This piece of furniture is a stopping point for anyone who passes walking, running, or biking along the nearby paths. From it, you can take in the varied landscapes offered by the area: fields, forests, and vineyards. For us here at Jean Leon, it’s also a spot we really like. This secret is very close to the winery, and we always share it with our visitors so they can enjoy the Penedès.
Joan’s secret: We’re the base.
The secret of the Castellers de Vilafranca human tower association lies at the base, that is, the root at the ground, which is where everything began. In the mid-19th century, when the human tower association of Valls was visiting Vilafranca, the Vilafranca residents positioned themselves at the bottom of the towers to provide support, making it possible to build constructions that were huge for that time, such as nine-level towers. This tradition of forming the ground-level base of the towers has lasted over time. Finally, in 1948 the Castellers de Vilafranca association was founded, keeping the essence of being at the foot even today, as Joan, the association’s president, explains.
Carme and Sergi’s secret: The word pèlag.
The word pèlag is only used in the Penedès and describes a pool of water, as well as referring to a nature park in Vilobí del Penedès, the Parc dels Talls. This park is a protected natural area that came about due to mining activity, which began in ancient times and continued up to the end of the last century. Today, four pèlags form part of this area that Carme and Sergi love so much.
Victor’s secret: The Penedès border castles.
With Victor, we discover the medieval past of the Penedès, which, in the 10th century, was a region in between two very different territories: the Christian Catalan counties and the Moorish Emirate of Cordoba. Various castles and fortifications were built to cope with attacks, and these constructions have stood the test of time. Today, the castles in Gelida, Subirats, Olèrdola, Foix, and Sant Martí Sarroca are the witnesses of the battles between knights and Moors that took place centuries ago.
Núria’s secret: Vil·la Casals.
The Penedès coastline is where we find the home of one of the best cellists of the 20th century: Pau Casals. Today a museum, Vil·la Pau Casals shows off the musical and human legacy of the man who owned the property before going into exile. This is the legacy Núria is responsible for bringing to the visitors who come to the museum house in Sant Salvador. A letter signed by Einstein and a United Nations medal are some of the souvenirs you can find there.
Dani’s secret: Silo 169.
Numerous civilizations have passed through the Penedès, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Iberians, making it a region where vines have been cultivated since time immemorial. In fact, it is believed that the Penedès region – and with it the vineyard – was born 2,700 years ago, thanks to the archeological discovery by Dani and his team. In 2011, they discovered mineralized and carbonized seeds at the Iberian site at Font de la Canya (Avinyonet del Penedès). Thought to be remains from pressing grapes, the team was thus able to establish a start date for the birth of this wine region. If you’d like to find out more about this discovery, you can read the post we published last year about the findings at the site here.
Maria’s secret: The phylloxera festival.
The phylloxera plague devastated Penedès vineyards in the late 19th century. Fortunately, though, it was possible to recover vine growing some years later by replanting the vines using American rootstock grafts, which kept this crop from disappearing in the region. To commemorate this event, every year on September 7th and 8th, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia fills with festivities, firecrackers, music, and cava. Young and old alike take to the streets dressed in yellow. In the crowd we find Maria, who enjoys her favorite festivity every year on these dates, recalling the milestone that was achieved nearly 250 years ago.
If you’d like to discover everything hiding in the Penedès and get to know this amazing region even better, just click HERE. Now you don’t have any excuse, because the Penedès no longer has any secrets.