Barcelona (ACN).- The region of Penedès, in Catalonia, is known for its wine and cava appellation. Although some of the restaurants and wineries have been popular within the wine tourism sector, lovers of cava and wine can now enjoy a new activity. This is called the ‘burricleta’ and it is a rental service of electric bicycles with GPS to explore the vineyards in a sustainable way. Thus, visitors can enjoy at first hand the territory where the designation of origin Penedès is produced. Also, it allows visitors to enjoy the landscape because it does not involve too much physical effort regardless of age or fitness. The entrepreneurs of this initiative are working on a joint offer with restaurants and wineries from the region to give the visitors a better understanding of the area, apart from the territory itself.
The ‘burricleta’ is not a new initiative as it is underway in other regions of Catalonia. It is an assisted bicycle that makes the user more comfortable and less tired since the electric motor helps constantly. “It is a bike that has all the conveniences”, said one of the entrepreneurs, David Sala, who started the ‘burricleta’ centre this year in Penedès and Garraf.
This is the ideal way to visit the Penedès region since the vehicle is adapted to rural roads and, as Sala has assured, it functions “quietly, peacefully and ecologically”. “It is a way to discover an unknown territory with a GPS. So visitors do not need to know the roads, just have to let themselves go”, he added.
Patricia Vidal, a client who used the ‘burricleta’ for the first time, was very satisfied because “it is very funny and comfortable. It allows us to enjoy the landscape and the conversation because you are not so worried about the bicycle and you look at the environment more”.
Another client who wanted to try the experience is Montse Casasayas. She said that “it is a good choice if you travel in a group because everybody is following the same rhythm. Sometimes if you travel with young children or elderly people there is always someone who is riding slower and everybody has to wait for him or her.”
Precisely for this reason, the other entrepreneur who opened the centre of the Penedès along with David Sala, Pau Simon, said that this system “democratises the use of bicycles”.
The ‘burricleta’ presents more possibilities for visitors to the Penedès-Garraf area as cycling through the vineyards is a good way to discover nature and the beginning of the winemaking process.
In addition, the GPS marking the route chosen also indicates the points of interest, that is, where to stop and listen to an audio guide which gives an explanation, Pau Simon has pointed to some examples of explanations that the device gives: “aspects of the environment, a description of the vineyard, grape varieties or a description of a monastery”. Furthermore, the two entrepreneurs are working on agreements with other wine tourism companies to offer a complete package to their customers.
Also, all of the ‘burricleta’ centres have a list of restaurants that users of this service can go for a special menu, particularly in Penedès. Pau Simon explained that they are “looking for agreements with wineries proposing to have the ‘burricleta’ and proposed routes leave from there, or some routes may pass through their facilities where visitors can stop for a visit or a taste”
In fact, they have prepared two proposals. One is a night route that stops at a wine cellar where visitors can do a wine tasting. The other is centred on the harvest. In this second option visitors go to the vineyard to pick grapes and then to the cellar to crush the grapes with their feet, as it used to be done in the past and afterwards tasting the grape juice. “Because of this, users of ‘burricleta’ that do this route can see the whole process of wine”, has added Simon.
A client, Ferran Cisa, thinks that “this is an option that will give a lot of strength to tourism in the region”. “It is a very important resource that is needed”, he said.
The entrepreneurs have organised five different routes that can be easily followed with GPS and depart from where the centre is located, in the city of Vilafranca del Penedès. This is how it works normally, however they can work as guides if it is requested.
All routes are considered low level and they do not require travelling over 30 kilometres (including the return). The destinations are different - Sant Sebastià dels Gorgs, Sant Martí Sarroca, Vilobí del Penedès -, all strategically designed around points of interest for the visitors, for example a picnic area, a wine warehouse, a natural swimming area, a monument or a landscape view.
A network model to bring the local heritage to the surface
The ‘burricleta’ electric bicycle service is a business networking idea that started in 2009 by two entrepreneurs based in Perafita (Lluçanès), Joan Sales and Regina Casas, who had the idea of spreading cultural and natural resources through a cycling tourism model.
Apart from the centre in Penedès-Garraf, the ‘burricleta’ has centres in Lluçanès, Gavarres, Empordà, Pla de l’Estany, and Alt Urgell. Outside Catalonia, the ‘burricleta’ has reached Madrid and Navarra.