The majority of Penedés vintners are small and family-owned. Some are literally one-man operations, making wine exclusively from their own harvests and performing each step of the process on-site. In fact, many vineyards have been in the possession of a single family for many generations [source: DO Penedés].
The two most well known names in Cava are Cordoníu and Freixenet. Cordoníu began producing wine in 1551. It is also generally accepted that Cordoníu was the first Spanish vintner to produce a quality Cava, using the champenoise method with the local grape varieties. The modern architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, a contemporary of the more famous Antonio Gaudí, designed the Cordoníu cellars in 1915 [source: Cordoníu].
Today, more than 50 companies produce Cava in the small village of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia. The largest is Freixenet, one of the leaders of the global wine industry. They produce 200 million bottles annually. Freixenet's Cava is based on the Spanish grape varieties Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada, although appellation regulators have recently approved the blending of international Chardonnay and Pinot Noir [source: Freixenet].
In still wines, one of Penedés region's leading houses is Torres. In the 1960s, Miguel Torres was among the first and most successful Spanish vintners to experiment with blending native and international varietals [source: CIV]. The family now owns estates in California, Chile and elsewhere, and exports to more than 100 countries [source: Torres].
Another famous name in the region's wines is Jean León. He was born in Spain but owned a restaurant in Hollywood (La Scala) that became a favorite celebrity watering hole in the 1950s. He later bought an estate in Penedés and planted French varietals [source: Jean León]. León's wines were served at Ronald Reagan's inauguration in 1981 [source: Urquhart].
A relative newcomer on the viticultural scene, Josep María Albet i Noya produced Spain's first organic (or, in European parlance, "ecological") wines, beginning in 1982. He produces Cava and still wines, avoiding all pesticides and chemical fertilizers. His techniques, he argues, represent a return to tradition [source: Mendel].
To learn more about Penedés and other wine-related topics, visit the links on the next page.