The coast from Barcelona to the French border is a wealth of scenic beauty. There are places like Peratallada, Pals, Roses and of course Cadaques and Port Lligat. For those who want to seek some adventure inland, there is Girona with it’s awe inspiring Cathedral and it’s maze of cobbled streets and ancient walls. For Game of Thrones fans, these are the steps that Jamie Lannister rode up to challenge the Sparrow. We all know how that ended!
Vilamaniscle, on the other hand, is not on most tourists itinerary. That is a shame because there is an idyllic beauty here that is serene and yet invigorating. Most of you know that we tend to go quite off the beaten path because it’s usually here where one can find tranquility or gems of wine. In Vilamaniscle, we found both.
A short one hour drive from Girona, Vilamaniscle nestles along the slope of the Albera mountains which are the beginnings of the mighty Pyrenees. What drew us here was wine. More correctly, a winery. AV Bodeguers. We had been long enamored of their plush Garnatxa Negra (Grenache) and Syrahs and their full bodied, yet steely and flowery Garnatxa Blanca (Grenache Blanc)
Wandering on the path less trodden, we ended literally walking into the garage of Conxita Pau. The matriarch of the family, she lives upstairs while the garage serves as the winery!
AV Bodeguers is a family winery. Conxita’s sons Ferran and Lluis Alcacer, with the help of their wives navigate this winery. We got to hang out with both Ferran and Lluis and Ferran’s wife Miriam.
That morning, the grapes were furiously arriving at the winery. It was hectic and there was urgency in the air. That and the smell of fresh grape juice!
Ferran Alcacer, a very passionate winemaker is the cellar master.
Lluis is Ferran’s brother. His role is that of the viticulturist. Since the wine is made in the vineyard, we joked that ultimately it is Lluis who is making the wine.
We got to see him not only bringing in the grapes but also help direct the pickers at their vineyard. The one below is called the Amphitheatre as it is sunk into the hillside creating the illusion of a Roman amphitheatre, but populated by vines!
The soil is all schist, the slate underneath the topsoil that we love so much!
AV Bodeguers is a small winery and this is a family affair. We have always raved about their wines, and hopefully now you understand why we like them so much. It’s all about the vineyards (again) and lot of heart.
A shout out to Mas Vivent, a rural tourism hotel that would be a cool place to stay for anyone coming to the town of Vilamaniscle in search of great wines.