Freixenet-blog Freixenet Winery

Just a 45 minute drive west of Barcelona in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia is the Freixenet winery, and the birth place of the worlds best Cava!

Freixenet produces more than 100 million bottles of Cava each year. 3 types of white Spanish grapes are used (Macabeo, Parellada and Xarello), but Freixenet uses only one type of yeast to ferment all of their Cava.

The winery was formed mid-19th century when two winemaking families joined. The Ferrers owned La Freixeneda, and the Sala family who had been exporting wine to South America since 1830. The granddaughter of the founder of the Casa Sala wine company married Pedro Ferrer of La Freixeneda. The company they formed took the name Freixenet.

Unfortunately also during the mid-19th century the Great French Wine Bligh occurred which eventually spread to Spain. In 1872 phylloxera hit Spanish vineyards. Phylloxera is a microscopic insect – like an aphid, that eats the roots of grapes. These insects were unknowingly introduced by French wine makers when they imported American grape vines to be more competitive. According to Levi Gadye: “the phylloxera preferred the leaves of imported American vines, and the roots of local French vines.” The solution to this pest problem was to graft European vines with the aphid-resistant American vines. The majority of the rootstock came from Texas.

Then in 1898 the Spanish-American war happened which decimated some of their best markets. By 1914 with the loss of the Spanish colonies in South America, they started focusing on sparkling wine, which was in short supply in Spain.

Around 1916 time the cellars in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia were built. These are the cellars you will get to tour if you visit the estate. The main building was designed by the Catalan modernist architect Josep Ros i Ros.

During World War II they were unable to export all of the wine they were bottling so when you go down into the caves there are many bottles of Cava from the 1940’s. I had asked why every so often there was an empty spot in the stacks of bottles and was told that occasionally a bottle will just explode from the pressure, so you probably don’t want to touch these dusty older bottles.

In the 1970s, Freixenet started exported its Cava (Called it Champagne back then – they had to change the name to Cava when Spain joined the European Union in the 80’s) and in 1974 they introduced Freixenet Cordon Negro in the black frosted bottle that we have all grown to love.

Another interesting thing I learned on the tour was that they never completely empty a barrel – they always leave a couple gallons of wine that gets passed along to the next batch. So I guess you could say that with every glass of Freixenet you have just a little bit of wine in there that was produced before you were even born.