Pure Mediterranean: Catalonia, the land of olive oil
Learning about the culture of olive oil involves understanding the landscape and its people. It’s the common factor in the Mediterranean. Olive oil tourism means savoring and exploring the roots of Catalan cuisine. You can also level it up with wine tourism and active nature tourism which makes it a well-rounded option for all kinds of people. Welcome to Catalonia, the land of olive oil.
Catalan olive oil is local Mediterranean produce which has generated a whole ecosystem of mills and producers who open their doors to give you the chance to take in a unique experience. In Catalonia there are five varieties of olive oil with a protected designation of origin: les Garrigues, Siurana, Terra Alta, Baix Ebre-Montsià and Empordà. Each one produces oil with a distinct aroma and body. This diversity is determined by the climate, the type of soil, and the varieties of olives used such as the argudell in l’Empordà and the morruda in el Baix Ebre.
Olive oil tourism takes you to unique places including la Farga de l’Arion, a group of ancient olive trees in Ulldecona. Home to the world’s oldest olive tree which is over 1,700 years old, it’s a must-see agricultural, culinary and cultural heritage site and a complete open-air nature museum for you to visit. Here, el Molí de la Creu produces its homegrown virgin olive oil, unique in the world, using traditional harvesting methods. When you visit, you can try its oil and then buy some to take home a little bit of this culinary treasure.
Experiences that are liquid gold
Catalonia is a leading producer of high quality olive oil. In recent years, Catalan producers have invested in enhancing olive oil culture and more and more mills and production sites run tours and experiences to enable you to plunge into the fascinating world of olive oil.
Producers host events such as aioli workshops, making raw sauces, workshops to learn how to savor olive oil and tastings of local produce. If you feel like it, in the fall you can go to comb out olive trees, that is, to harvest olives in the traditional way. And as a reward, afterwards you can enjoy an olive oil tasting followed by a meal featuring local produce. Other options you might be interested in include a stroll among centuries-old olive trees and discovering how olives are organically grown.
Olive oil, wine and gastronomic hotels
If you’d like to combine olive oil and wine tourism, lots of wineries in Catalonia also have their own mills and produce their own olive oil. In el Priorat, Masroig hosts tastings of the olive oil produced in its Siurana Protected Designation of Origin winery. In la Terra Alta, the Pinell de Brai Catalan Art Nouveau winery designed by Cèsar Martinell, a disciple of Gaudí, also produces extra virgin olive oil. Pairing a tasting of wine with sampling virgin olive oil can be a very flavorsome experience.
In Catalonia you can additionally enjoy olive oil tourism in gastronomic hotels such as Mas La Boella. This historic 12th century farmhouse in La Canonja near Tarragona produces its own high-end olive oil which you can try in a tasting menu created by the hotel’s chef. You can then round off the experience with a visit to the estate to explore the vineyards, the olive trees and the production processes and shop for the oil in their gourmet store.