How to Make Cava

Giro del Gorner in Penedes, Catalonia, Spain Can Teach You

By: - Jun 12, 2016

Gabriel the winemaker The 125 acre vineyard The stainless steel vats

At some vineyards you feel like you are at home.

Giro del Gorner is one of those places.

Maybe it is the laid back attitude.

Maybe it is the swimming pool.

Maybe it’s the family pets.

Maybe it is the family that runs the vineyard.

Whatever it is, this 300 year old grape producer turned winery has it all.

Take Marta, a family member, sales manager and our guide for the day. Giro del Gorner is in her DNA.

Take Gabriel, her brother and winemaker. He is a lot more: father of three, a technical agronomist and director of the winery.

Take Oscar, another brother, father of two and responsible for the administrative management of the cellar.

And take the couple who has devoted their lives to the vineyard, father Gabriel Giro I Balta and his wife and mother to Marta, Gabriel and Oscar, Montserrat Via I Roig.

Put this family together and you have the ‘heart and soul’ of Giro del Gorner.

With 125 acres, a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and summers, lots of sun and moderate rainfall, the gentle slopes made of clay and lime generate high-quality grapes. 

Until Gabriel Giro took over the family estate in 1971, the cultivation of the grapes were mainly for other producers, with little left for home use. As time passed, so did the philosophy. With three sons willing to become part of the family business, the decision to bottle and produce wine and cava came.

In time, Marta returned from the PR world to become part of the family business.

The rest is history, the history that began on November 9th, 1595, when the Giro Gorner family purchased the estate.

Today, with over 300 years of producing wines from the grapes from their harvest, the state-of-the-art winery produces international grapes such as Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, plus the classic grapes of Macabeu, Xarel.lo and Parellada, the classic Cava grapes.

Producing Cava is not dissimilar to producing Champagne. Cava must be aged on lees for a minimum of nine mnths and must reach an alcohol level not below 10% and not more then 13%. Cavas are based on sweetness levels and are classified from Brut Nature (013 grams of residual sugar with no sugar added) to Dulce (sweet), which contains more then 50 grams of residual sugar per liter.

Some of the best Cava in Spain is being produced by Giro del Gorner. When cava is ordered, that is when winemaker, Gabriel, disgorges the bottles that are going to be shipped. To my knowledge, Giro del Gorner is the only cava producer that follows such a practice.

2013 Gorner Brut Nature Reserva
Production: 30,000 bottles
Alcohol: 12%
Grapes: 50% Macabeu; 30% Xarel.lo; 20% Parellada
Ageing: a minimum of 36 months
Penin Guide: 87 points
Lively, clean, dry and lingering on the palate, this Cava of the highest quality shows balance and elegance.

2007 Gorner Brut Nature Gran Reserva
Production: 5,000 bottles
Alcohol: 12%
Grapes: 50% Macabeu; 30% Xarel.lo; 20% Parellada
Ageing: a minimum of 48 months; more then 3 years contact with the lees
Penin Guide: 88 points
Balanced flavors of kiwi, vanilla and mango linger on the palate of this special occasion, elegant, vibrant, clean, toasty cava, worthy of distinction.

Gorner Brut Rose
Production: 5,000 bottles
Alcohol: 12%

Grape: 100% Pinot Noir
Penin Guide: 88 points
Ageing: a minimum of 12 months
A beautiful bright pink color cava with a strong nose of strawberry and cherry make this Brut rose a perfect year-round cava that shines in the summer and warms the soul in the winter.

Giro del Gorner produces five Cavas, of which I highlighted three of my favorites, four white wines, one rose and two reds. Some of my other favorite wines include:

2015 Gorner White
Production: 8,000 bottles
Alcohol: 12%
Grapes: 45% Xarel.lo; 35% Macabeu; 10% Parellada; 10% Chardonnay
Fruity, yet sour, tropical and lively, the 2015 Gorner White is a perfect summer wine.
2014 Gorner Muscat
Production: 1,090 bottlesAlcohol: 11.5%
Grapes: 100% Muscat
Pineapple, peach, apricot and coconut rush the palate as this somewhat dry, overly flavorful, well-balanced wine hypnotizes the soul.

2014 Gorner Xarel.lo barrel fermented
Production: 707
Alcohol: 11.5%
Grape: 100% Xarel.lo
Ageing: Fermented in oak barrels and lees ageing
Amazing, well-balanced, elegant, aromatic wine that dazzles the palate with toasty and buttery, like vanilla, tropical fruit. This is a wine that can be sampled on its own, as each mouthful changes with time.

2014 Gorner Red Crianza
Production: 6,000 bottles
Alcohol: 14.5%
Grapes: 50% Merlot; 50% Cabernet Sauvignon
Ageing: 9 months in oak barrels
Dark fruit dominate this expressive wine that pairs well with fatty meat and strong cheese.

2009 Gorner Red Reserva
Production: 6,000 bottles
Alcohol: 14.5%
Grapes: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon; 50% Merlot
Ageing: 18 months in oak barrels and 2 years in the bottle
Complex, tannin-free, this evenly balanced blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is loaded with character. Flavors of spice, leather, cocoa, red licorice and cherries with cream make this wine special. It is a perfect wine on its own or paired with game or red meat.

My experience at Giro del Gorner could be yours. The vineyard has an assortment of tours, run by Marta. One tour, titled the ‘Traditional Visit’, is where you learn about the history of the vineyard, go on a cellar tour, receive a lesson on how wine and cava are made, which ends with a sampling of wine and cava.

To learn more about the vineyard, the family runs a four hour tour titled, ‘A Walk Along Vineyard’, where you learn about the vineyard and nature. Included is a ‘typical Catalan picnic in the vineyards’, complete with wines and cavas from the cellar.

If you want to learn cava making, why not take the 3 ½ hour ‘Making Cava?’ class.

Feel free to contact Marta Giro at: if you have interest in visiting the lovely vineyard in Penedes.