El Molí is an 18C paper and olive mill situated in Torrelles de Foix, on the south west foothills of the Penedès wine region Now a quiet backwater, this was once the highway of the middle ages, la ruta de la Reconquista, an important trade and pilgrim route from Barcelona to Vilafranca del Penedès and to the Cistercian monestaries of Santes Creus, Vallbona de les Monges and Poblet, Resting place of the Catalan kings.
El Moli is a large solid 3 storey structure, one of about 40 similar hydro powered structures built around the end of the 1700s to recycle cotton and celluose for paper. This industry petered out at the beginning of the 1900s and "el Molino" continued as an olive mill up till the 1970s. In the 1940s the upper floors were remodeled as a barracks for the Guardia Civil police force, housing 6 families and the police station. Torrelles was still an important border town between Barcelona and Tarragona provinces.
In the 1970s the barracks and offices moved to new installations and el Moli was abandoned, squatted, cleared and bricked-up. By the time we found it, el Molí was a major fixerupper.
The locals called it "l'antic quartel de la guardia civil". The Guardia Civil were very unpopular in Catalunya, and when they moved to modern barracks, everyone, who had a grudge, threw a stone at the building. I know, because I replaced every pane of glass in the 36 windows. Too big, too old, too much work and a tainted history, it was the house nobody wanted and we loved it. It was the house with "lots of possibilities" how could we resist? In 1999 we began fixing it up and decided to call our company El Moli Tours
Paddy Mannion, Chief Guide and Curator, el Molí, DO Penedes, (that's him above)
Great wine is nothing without good company, good hospitality, and that, naturally, involves good food too. Irishman Paddy Mannion has spent thirty years learning about all, in the course of a career as restaurant and hospitality manager and sommelier in Dublin Ireland, Aachen Holland, Köln Germany, San Francisco, Barcelona and Penedès.
Happily settled in the D.O. Penedès just south of Barcelona, he is today an acknowledged authority on the people and wines, and curator to enjoying all that is best about Southern Catalunya.
In 2003, he established el Moli Tours to make it easy for anyone to enjoy the best of all the good and beautiful things in the Penedes wine region
Stefan "Festis" Lismond the winner,
one of our disgracefully successful award winning guides
Stefan Lismond, DOQ Priorat
Stefan Lismond lives in Priorat, probably the most historic "new" red wine region in Spain. When he is not working on wine exports for small local producers or giving visitors a incredible wine tour, he is preparing another wonderful food and wine experience. Stefan is a pioneer of Tourism is Penedes and a veteran of hospitality having run Can Festis, his own rural hotel, restaurant and cultural centre in Penedès. The Festís lives on in his Cava (Winner of the 2006 Rotary Club award) and anytime he takes care of a group of our visitors. The Festís
El Moliteers, Doc 911 Martin, Stefan Festis Lismond, and Felix the Castle
Our team includes specialists in organising anything from a bottle of wine to a castle, literally
El Molí Tours, Classic Penedes
Penedes is peppered with great wineries, village restaurants, and artesan producers.
We are committed to having a different adventure every day in order to keep up with them all and
to keep in contact with as many old friends, new wines and wine-makers, small wineries, gastronomic havens and historic corners of Southern Catalunya, as we can.
We expose small producers to new friends and we hope we bring our grain of sand to the sustainable development of the wines and wine tourism in our region.
Our tours, like good wines, offer a perfect balance between tradition and innovation, passion and expertise, food and wine, people and real wine country.
We look forward to seeing you.
Where did my 40s go? Today El Moli is our home, our office and bicycle centre. Work continues and will for a few more years. Eventually, it will house a Museum with a functioning mill stone, bike centre and shop, tasting rooms and accommodation, and it will continue its task as a natural point of discovery of the Penedès Region and the Pilgrim path to Southern Catalunya.
Cheers and all the best