Call me a wine snob, but mostly my heart sinks when an estate lists “wine tourism” as part of their offer. I have visions of chugging around the vineyards in a toy train, headphones clapped tightly to my ears while I fiddle frantically with the audioguide in search of the right language and listen with mounting desperation to a potted commentary telling me how many hectares the winery has, whether they own the vines or rent them, which varieties they grow and how many grapes it takes to make a litre of wine. By the time I reach the bottling line, I’m losing the will to live.
Terra Remota, an architect-designed, organic winery lost in the midst of fifty-four hectares of cork oaks, pines and scrub in northern Catalunya, does things differently. Wine tourism is writ large on their website, but instead of throngs of thirsty merrymakers and tooting trains, all you get is peace and quiet interrupted only by the occasional call of the crested hoopoes that haunt the vineyards. You can certainly visit the winery, admire the stainless steel tanks, wooden vats and barrels – even the bottling line if that floats your boat. But what keeps drawing me back here is their picnic under the trees.
They call it the Eco-picnic and since this is a working wine estate, it’s offered only as a lunch option – a late one, this being Spain. You wander along the sandy track from the winery through the vineyards where an arrangement of scrubbed wooden pallets set with huge mattresses and cushions awaits in the grateful shade of the parasol pines.
Your picnic, packed into a Terra Remota wooden wine box and brought by one of the staff, consists of slices of jamón Ibérico, pâté, local salami and butifarra blanca, the typical white Catalan charcuterie sausage, all from the local butcher-cum-deli.
Wrapped in waxed paper with the Terra Remota label affixed comes a slab of Catalan artisan cheese – one of my favourites is a succulent, semi-cured goat called Sarró by Montbru, from the hills up behind Barcelona. There’s baguette with plum tomatoes and the estate’s olive oil, so you can make your own pa amb tomaquet, the Catalan classic of tomatoes rubbed on bread and anointed with olive oil and – in the autumn – grapes to nibble on.
Grapes come too in the form of Terra Remota wine: there’s a choice between Camino, a gutsy red blend of Syrah, Garnatxa and Cabernet Sauvignon which I love when the weather turns cooler, but on a warm late-summer day, a beautifully chilled, pale-blush Caminito – their fragrant 100-percent Garnatxa rosé – slips down a treat.
A cool picnic at the winery surrounded by views of the vineyards, total tranquility and heavenly aromas of toasted pine needles – this is my kind of wine tourism.
A version this article was first published in September 2018 in the Financial Times How To Spend It online https://howtospendit.ft.com/food-drink/204277-what-keeps-drawing-me-back-to-this-catalan-winery-is-its-delicious-picnic