When in Rome, do as the… millennials do? A blunder! Do plan your trip to Priorat ahead of time, don’t wing it.
Priorat appears to be quite an attractive wine travel destination. Still quite obscure, pristine, unspoiled and landlocked. (See our tips on how to get to, from and around Priorat here).
It’s a quiet county in the lap of nature, where to unwine-d with a glass of wine, disconnect from the daily rat race and just relish in the perfect blend of scenery and local products.
The experience promises to be superb. It involves, though, a bit of groundwork plus some responsible travel behavior. So, let’s talk about the do’s and don’ts when planning your visit to Priorat in this travel guide.
Priorat Travel Tips: Planning the Trip
As a tourism management professor, I can tell you that travel involves a sizable chunk of our life being spent living in someone else’s home. And by “home” I mean the travel destination. Tourism can benefit much of the local community and economy (Priorat winemakers, restaurateurs, hoteliers, guides, etc.), but it’s also an invasion of the local community’s everyday life and routine.
Your arguments may pivot around something like “the customer is always right, so if they want my crunchy euros down their pocket, they should make sure they spread their legs wide enough.” This is an old-fashioned mentality. As a Priorat local, I can tell you that Priorat locals want respect before money. Or, at least, both respect and money.
Winetraveler Pro Tip: If you’re staying Barcelona, book a guided day-trip to Priorat with transportation, lunch and wine tasting included from the city.
I wonder if you’d like to see a pizza delivery guy knocking at your door at 6 am especially when you haven’t ordered any pizza at all, to put this in perspective. With this example, you should have enough empathy with those Priorat wineries that require reservations and may feel quite distressed when you try to pop in with no previous notice.
MAKING RESERVATIONS AT PRIORAT WINERIES
My point is that planning your Priorat experience ahead of time will significantly improve the quality of your trip. The region is small, and although there are plenty of wineries to visit (more than necessary for one day), most of them don’t open their tasting rooms unless you book. I’m not going to delve into the social and economic rationale for this business model, this is just something we must accept.
So, try to contact the wineries that you’re interested in at your earliest convenience. You’ll see how gratifying your experience can be. Most wineries have their emails and/or booking phone numbers available on the web. At Celler Devinssi, we receive most bookings via WhatsApp or email and a smaller share via Instagram and Facebook. Many are referred from the Winetraveler platform directly.
For those of you who still prefer to play by the ear; yes, there are some Priorat wineries that have someone in the tasting room all day round (even on Sunday afternoon). But you may have to drive half an hour or longer between them. When you book ahead you may be able to arrange tastings and tours at wineries located right next to each other, which will make your experience seamless and you’ll spend less time driving. This is the kind of travel enhancement we encourage at Winetraveler.
As we mentioned earlier, you can also hire a tour company or private guide to arrange wine tasting visits for you ahead of time.
BOOKING YOUR PRIORAT ACCOMMODATIONS
Similar advice goes for hotel and restaurant booking. Priorat contains some excellent places to stay and wine-and-dine. If you book ahead, you won’t rough it at all. However, lodging options are quite limited, particularly at weekends. My handy tip here would be to plan your Priorat wine experience on weekdays, not weekends. This will both ensure good choice of hotel beds and more wineries willing to host you and share their beautiful wines. Please note that not all hotels follow the 24-hour check-in policy, find how exactly to obtain your room key in each case.
If you’re looking for a more upscale experience, consider booking a room at one of our favorite winery hotels with vineyard views: Trossos del Priorat or Hotel Cal Llop. You can check different Priorat wine hotels, apartments or rural cottages here.
BOOKING YOUR MEAL AT PRIORAT RESTAURANTS
When going to Priorat restaurants, there are some that are ready to serve meals every day of the week. Hostal Sport in Falset is a good example. However, Priorat is large enough and not all itineraries include Falset (although Priorat’s capital IS beautiful, who would argue back). Again, booking a meal in Priorat can be an issue for those who naively think that tourist needs are the most important in the world, and that restaurants should be always open like a McDonalds Drive-Thru. Don’t expect this to be the case in this remote region of Catalonia.
Winetraveler Tip: book your Priorat restaurant meals as if it were an appointment with your lawyer. You’re bound to discover plenty of local savories. Many restaurants have their menus available on their websites. Feel free to ask which options they may have to address your special (dietary, conceptual, religious, allergic, etc.) food requirements or preferences. You can browse the different Priorat restaurants at: Priorat Enoturisme (Priorat Wine Experience) and Priorat Tourism Information Office.
HIRING LOCAL TOUR GUIDES
Logically, very few tour guides would be happy to “wing” a tour for you on the spot and from scratch. The main reason isn’t their laziness, but all the previous arguments I’ve mentioned here when talking about wineries, hotels, and restaurants. That’s why I strongly recommend getting in touch with local guides well ahead of time. Then, during your Priorat tour, if something spontaneous happens (a local festivity, a stunning panorama, a sudden doors-open day at a winery), it may well be welcome. The best improvisation is a contrived one.
In one of the next posts, I’ll give you the lowdown on what to bring with you to Priorat. But there’s one tip I’d like to bring forward right now: cash vs card. Check with the wineries, hotels and restaurants if they accept cards. American Express is quite uncommon here, so most establishments won’t accept it. Visa and Master Card are the handiest ones, regardless of their credit/debit nature.
I truly hope that I’ve been able to help some of you to get an insight into planning your Priorat experience with this travel guide. For further questions don’t hesitate to drop me a line or in the comment section below!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily match those of the Winetraveler.com editorial board.
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