When I was growing up in Philadelphia, my parents would sometimes buy Champagne to celebrate New Year's. Even though it's been way over 20 years, I can remember that they'd buy Freixenet.
Oh, and, by the way, "Champagne" is called Cava in Catalunya (and Sparkling Wine in California). At the time, I didn't know the difference; it was all Champagne...
So, anyway, the Freixenet Cava factory is only about a 45-minute train ride from Barcelona. Time for a visit!
There's a whole wine-and-Cava growing region just outside the city with many different places you can visit. Codorniu, which I went to a few years ago, and Freixenet are located near the village of Sant Sadurni d'Anoia. Both offer similar tours where they teach you about Cava and walk you through some of the storage and production areas. Although the Codorniu buildings are more beautiful, the Freixenet's underground storage areas are also very cool.
I got lucky as my tour was in English. Score! The guide did a good job explaining the different types of grapes and Cavas. I think I know enough now that I have some reference and can actually absorb the information.
This time I learned the difference between the sugar content of the various Cavas and Champagnes. Not that sweeter is better or worse but only Brut Nature has no added sugar, which I often prefer because it's dryer. I never really knew why until now.
It was pretty late in the day when I did the tour and the production and distribution facilities were closed (although I'm really not sure if they're ever included on the tour). We did get to see some old production methods and equipment in one of the underground rooms.
A barrel-storage area on our way to the tram for our ride back up to street level:
Freixenet and Codorniu have similar offerings and prices. Freixenet wins for their tasting/tapas bar and convenience (right next to the train station) but, like I said, Codorniu's Cadafalch-designed building wins for beauty.
There's also a bunch of other wineries and tasting rooms around Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, which I haven't yet visited. When you come to see us, you could easily do both factory tours in the same day. Hint hint!