Vines were introduced to the region through trading partnerships with the Greeks and Phoenicians in about 400B.C. The Romans developed the industry only for it suffer throughout the occupation of the Moors between 711-1492. More recently it's this region where Spain's sparkling wine industry is centred. Produced in a similar style to Champagne, Cava has been produced in the Penedes district since about 1870 and earnt it's own DO in 1986. The Catalonia DO was created in 1999, allowing smaller appellations to benefit and make a mark for themselves. Concequently, the baseline quality of wines has only increased.
The coastal belt along the Mediterranean is mild and damp in the winter, the summers are hot and fairly dry. Further inland, the extremes become more frequent. Cool/damp winters and hot/dry summers aren't uncommon while microclimates within deep valleys and steep hillsides add to the complexity of this region of variety. Soil types vary from alluvial/clay mixtures along the coast to schist, sandstone and slate in the undulating topography further from the coast.
Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo are dominant white grape varieties. Varying from easy drinking everyday wines to full bodied and complex styles capable of competing with the world's best, Catalonia is well worth exploring. It's these varieties which form the base for most Cava production. Red wines are generally full bodied and fairly high in alcohol. Dominant varieties include Grenache, Tempranillo & Mourvedre.