Gallery: Cava: How Do They Get the Bubbles in There?

Bubbles tasting
Bubbles tasting
Freixenet makes a bunch of cavas, each with a different blend of grapes and levels of sweetness. This was the Cordon Negro Brut being poured made of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada grapes. (The harvest starts at the end of August with Macabeo, and ends at the beginning of October with Parellada.) It pours a pale yellow and has fruity notes of green apple and pear.
Freixenet HQ
Freixenet HQ
The entrance of the company's headquarters in Sant Sadurni d' Anoia, a quick ride from Barcelona. That bottle car parked out front was created for the 1929 World Fair in Barcelona. I was ready to climb right in, until I read the "Do Not Touch" sign.
Cava Cellars
Cava Cellars
Freixenet has nine levels of cave cellars. Big, right? It's among the ten largest wine companies in the world, owned and operated by the Ferrer family.
Yeast
Yeast
The tour walks you through the wine-making process, explaining the role of the yeast in the méthode Champenoise and the blend of cava grapes.
Those are SOME tanks
Those are SOME tanks
During the first fermentation, the wine is stored in these huge tanks. And by huge I mean, 1.2-million liter monster tanks. (My friend Hector is there on the left just to give you some scale.) Freixenet has six of these, as well as smaller (well, relatively speaking) 600,000-liter tanks. The total capacity here is 38 million liters.
Riddling and Disgorging
Riddling and Disgorging
While some bottles are still riddled manually, most of the cava is rotated automatically with machines that work to bring yeast from secondary fermentation to the neck of the bottle. During the disgorging stage, the yeast sediment is frozen in the neck and ejected. Then it's on to the corking machine.
Cordon Negro Brut
Cordon Negro Brut
This one's nicknamed "Black Bottle Bubbly." People always note the snazzy black frosted look. It goes for about $12 a bottle.
Red Capped Boys and Bubble Girls
Red Capped Boys and Bubble Girls
You may recognize Freixenet's iconic ad on the left of the red-capped boy with a bottle under his arm, first marketed in the 1920s. Or maybe you've seen the commercials of the "Bubble Girls" dressed in gold leotards, their lively bodies spilling out of a giant bottle, singing and shimmering. You can buy the gold Bubble ("Burbuja" in Spanish) Girl costumes in the Freixenet gift shop. Last year they hired Shakira to appear in commercials that ran during the Christmas/New Year's holiday season.