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Interview with Catalunya Tour Operator: Nico James

Editor’s Note: Nico James has been a long time friend of Catavino. A daring entrepreneur, with a wicked sense of humor, he’s been our “go to” man whenever we need a fabulous tour of the Penedes. Today, we’ve asked Nico to provide you a little background on what drove him not only to Spain, but to wine.   

What is your background and how did you end up in Spain and working in the wine industry?

Before I was bitten by the wine bug, I was working in Sales for a multinational company, but ever since I returned to Spain in 1999 food and wine was always top of my agenda. Towards the end of 2004 I was set on working for myself and finally in 2005 I set up my wine import and wholesale business. The first thing I did was to complete the Sommelier course in the Hotel and Tourism School in Barcelona in order to gain a solid foundation in wines. From then on my interest and involvement with Spanish and especially wine form Catalonia has grown from year to year. One day when I was asked to do tastings and tours for incoming groups I accepted and my work within this field has grown ever since.

What do you find to be most exciting about the Penedes region of Spain, and it’s wine and food culture?

Penedés is one of those regions which is a diamond in the rough. Familiar to some  but yet unknown to the large majority it has many hidden stars among its vineyards. Single varietal indigenous grapes such as Xarel.lo are unique to the area, wine tourism is on the rise and the Penedés is convinced that its wines can compete with the world’s best.  They just need to be tasted more in order for them to gain recognition. Where there’s food, there needs to be wine. A wonderful fusion of local Mediterranean cuisine with a Penedés wine marks the beginning of a long relationship. This is one of the reasons why I live here!

What can people expect to learn/taste/experience if they join you on a tour?

Stemming from a multicultural background and having worked my way into the wine industry as an outsider, I have had to do a lot of ground work. I have extensive knowledge of the region and its people and exclusive access to many places with many insider tips on my list. Having attended many wine tours myself, I know what I would like to see and how I would like to be treated. I carry out tours as I would like someone to carry them out for me if I were a customer.  I take pride in personalizing all tours as much as possible. My unique experience, involvement in my work and a fun approach towards clients, where their comfort and enjoyment are my priority, make for unforgettable experiences.

If all this wine talk has made you thirsty to experience the Penedes for yourself – with Nico as your guide – then you’ll be pleased to know that his day trip from Barcelona is the first tour we’ve added to our tours section, where we are handpicking the best food and wine tasting experiences in Spain (and Portugal) for you to try for yourself.

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