The first European on record to find the San Francisco Bay was a Catalan called Gaspar de Portolà, in 1769. Perhaps you've heard the name. They're still celebrating his visit, and all things Catalan, in Sonoma County.
Gloria Ferrer’s takes place next weekend, July 21 and 22. The melodies of classical guitar, rhythms of flamenco, aromas of saffron and spice, and tastes of the world-class bubbly from Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards will fill the sensory appetites from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ferrer property in the Carneros district.
The Ferrer family of Spain, owners of Freixenet S.A., established Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards as the first sparkling wine house in California’s Carneros region more than 25 years ago. Their sparkling wines are made in traditional méthode champenoise, primarily from the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit that grows so well in the foggy Carneros climate. They also make still wine, primarily from these varietals, as well as a cool-climate Merlot.
But they may be Catalan first, winemakers second. Catalonia is the northeast corner of Spain, abutting France along the Mediterranean. It shares with its neighbor a rich tradition of cuisine and culture. After all, if your capital were Barcelona - often called Paris with palm trees - you'd have something to celebrate too.
The Ferrer family has been in the wine business since the 1500s, and are the family behind La Freixeneda—a 12th century farming estate. Freixenet produced their first cava in 1915, and eventually becoming the world’s largest producer of méthode champenoise sparkling wine.
Jose and Gloria Ferrer first come to California in 1982, establishing their winery in 1986. Since 1992 they've held the to showcase the cultural side of their heritage. The events usually include lively Spanish classical guitar, flamenco dancing, a festive grape stomp and traditional folklore surprises. If you see a 12-foot papier-mâché gegant (giant) swaying down the re-creation of Barcelona’s “Las Ramblas,” don't be alarmed.
Among the events featured over the two weekend days will be cooking demonstrations with "Paella-Guy" Jose Castaneda; a guitar concert by Eric Symons; a grape-stomp competition; and traditional sardana dance for all. (See the attached program for times.)
Savory tapas, a flamenco show and wine seminars will all be offered, as well as Gloria Ferrer's acclaimed California sparkling and estate varietal wines. In fact Ferrer family wines from around the world will be available, which means there's sure to be Cava from Catalonia and maybe Malbec from Argentina as well.
Tickets to the 20th Annual Catalan Festival are $50 general admission, and $42.50 for club members and persons under 21. Tickets purchased at the door will be $55. RSVP online at http://www.gloriaferrer.com/catalan-festival or at (707) 933-1999.