Skip the crowds in Barcelona, hire a car and head up north along the Mediterranean coast to explore the province of Girona, Catalonia. In this article, we visit Terra Remota, a wine estate in Alt Empordà to learn about organic wines in Empordà and the area that is one of Spain’s oldest wine-making regions. This article is part of our Costa Brava Girona road trip series.

 

‘Terra Remota’, roughly translated from Catalan means ‘remote land’ (if you believe Google).

Putting aside our weak grasp of the Catalan language, there is something futuristic about the twenty-year-old winemaking estate which bears that name in the Girona province of Catalonia.

View of the Pyrenees from Terra Remota Winery

Located near the village of Sant Climent Sescebes and a twenty-minute drive from the art-hub town of Figueres, Terra Remota is a worthy addition to your Costa Brava Girona road trip itinerary for a number of compelling reasons.

One of those reasons is the chance to learn about organic wines in Empordà.

 

Organic Wines are a Serious Thing…

For the uninitiated and the purist, the concept of organic wine generates different reactions…from confusion to scepticism.

Organic wines are not a new trend. One could argue that for centuries, many cultures have produced wine from purely natural methods, sans the use of any synthetic chemicals to aid the process. 

An Introduction to organic wines at Terra Remota, D.O. Empordà

The modern-day recognition of organic wines reaches back to the 1960s when vintners began experimenting with natural winemaking, more for ideological reasons rather than for any serious commercial ambitions.

However, the momentum behind consumers wanting to ‘return to the land’ and eat more natural foods caused the industry to take organic wines more seriously. With an increasing emphasis on quality in recent times, organic wines have gone mainstream.

Terra Remota is recognised as an established organic wine producer in D.O. Empordà (the official designation for this wine-producing corner of northeastern Spain).

 

Background to Wine Making in D.O. Empordà

The risk of not using pesticides in wine production is…pests of course! 

This is something wine producers in Spain are very familiar with. A 19th-century grape phylloxera plague devastated many vineyards across Europe as well as in DO Empordà. 

With some help from the Tramontana winds and tenacious grafting with roots from America, around 20% of the historical winemaking region was rescued. Wine production in Empordà has recovered steadily since the 1930s.

Joan Frei, Terra Remota Winery Export Manager

The moisture from the Mediterranean, the minerality from the soil composition (mostly granite the closer you get to the Pyrenees) enable the cultivation of Carignan and Grenache (Garnatxa in Catalan). Both grape varieties add to the uniqueness of the red, white and rose wines produced in Empordà.

The combination of these elements is beneficial to organic farming and the production of organic wines in Empordà.

 

Organic Wines in Empordà – The Terra Remota Journey

Grapes which are grown organically must have no synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or soil fumigants used on them. Organic winemaking, on the other hand, must adhere to a strict set of production rules which differ depending on where you are in the world.

Learning about Organic Wines in Emporda with Joan Frei, Terra Remota Winery Export Manager

Producing organic wine is a challenge which the Bournazeau family, the current owners of Terra Remota have recently embarked upon. They took on this challenge following a successful run of wine production at this particular location from 1999.

The journey to organic wine production at Terra Remota took around ten years to complete. This included implementing the rigorous procedures required to transform the soil to support growing grapes organically and to fine-tune their organic wine production techniques. 

Picture of Marc and Emma Bournazeau, Terra Remota

HDYTI Tip: Curious about organic wines? Listen to this excellent podcast by Canadian wine expert, Natalie McClean. Also, read this guide from Vintage Roots.

 

A Winery Designed with the Future in Mind

The Tesla charging point you see as you approach the Terra Remota car park may seem slightly out of place in such a remote area. However, its presence is very deliberate and a suggestion that some innovative thinking has gone into building a winery of the future. 

View of grape vines stretching to the Pyrenees

Another indicator of this futuristic mindset is the design of the building. It is shaped like a space-ship emerging from beneath the soil. Joan Frei, the winery’s export manager and our host and guide explained further: 

“The architects wanted to integrate the winery with the land as much as possible,” he said, “They wanted to cause minimal disruption to Mother Nature.”

This unique design incorporates the use of gravity in the production process, minimising the use of pumps in favour of natural forces. Rainwater is harnessed for irrigating twenty-six of fifty hectares of land that were in production at the time of our visit.

The contemporary design of the winery – spread over three floors – creates a seamless path from the land to the bottle. Modern-minimalism-meets-functionality is the overall impression we came away with. 

 

The Terra Remota Wine Tasting Experience

Following a brief tour of the production facilities and the cellar, we headed to Terra Remota’s tasting room where Joan had prepared a table for us in the lounge. It was the beginning of autumn and although still warm, a wood fire added to the relaxing ambience.

Omo waiting for a wine tasting at Terra Remota

Our wine tasting session was accompanied by a thoughtfully curated selection of local produce including ham, sausage, cheese, bread and fruit. Joan had taken the trouble of honouring our dietary restrictions and invited us to try gluten-free items that his wife had found that morning.

Local produce and wine tasting at Terra Remota, Empordà

About to sample local produce during wine tasting at Terra Remota

Wine tasting, in our limited experience, tends to be very subjective and as such, we mostly differed in our observations on wine notes, minerality and aromas. What was unmistakable, however, was the endearing quality of the wines we tried.

We started with Caminante, a white wine of which around 10,000 bottles are currently produced annually. Caminito, a vibrant pink rose, followed. Joan suggested that it would pair well with sushi, salmon and paella dishes.

Next, we sampled the Tan Natural, a red wine made from 60% Grenache and 40% Tempranillo. It had an intense yet fresh quality and paired well with the cold meats. 

Finally, the award-winning Usted (Grenache Tinta 65%, Syrah 35%) made its grand appearance. This is the wine you will want to bring out for a special occasion to show off your good taste.

Caminante, Caminito and other wines produced at Terra Remota

While we thoroughly enjoyed learning about organic wines in Empordà at Terra Remota, as wine novices, we are unable to speak authoritatively about their comparative advantage or appeal. 

Our friends Amber and Eric Hoffman, writers at ‘Only in Costa Brava’ and authors of The Food Traveler’s Guide to The Costa Brava believe that there is still plenty of room for improvement in the organic wine industry in general.

Regardless, with their innovative approach, Terra Remota offers a great introduction to the world of organic wines and is a worthy stop on your Costa Brava Girona road trip itinerary.

 

Terra Remota is Tranquility…

When planning our visit to Terra Remota on our Costa Brava Girona road trip (Tesla or no Tesla) we did not anticipate the tranquillity we found. The ‘remote land’ certainly lives up to its name.

Winery tour listening to Joan Frei, Terra Remota Winery Export Manager

The landscape around the winery offers spectacular views. From Terra Remota, the grapevines stretch into the distance, seemingly all the way to the foot of the Pyrenees mountains.

Joan informed us of ongoing plans to build limited guest accommodation on the site. Expansion plans include cooking classes and wine pairing sessions hosted by local chefs. For the solitude and calmness this place guarantees, we would definitely return for a repeat experience.

From sea to mountain, Catalonia’s credentials as one of the world’s top gastronomy destinations is well established. A road trip through this region is bound to invigorate your mind, body and soul. Visitors with an appetite for good food and a willingness to try new wines will find plenty to engage with. 

 

Travel information:

Getting there: By car. From Girona (34 miles), Figueres (15 miles), and Barcelona (100 miles).

For winery tours, tastings and eco-picnic bookings, contact Terra Remota (booking required).

For local accommodation recommendations, visit Costa Brava Tourism.

We believe in drinking responsibly and in moderation. If you would like to know more about how to do this, visit Drinkaware.co.uk

 

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Co-Founders & Curators at HDYTI

Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).