Designed by the architect César Martinell, the Gandesa Cooperative is today considered one of the Cathedrals of wine and is classified as a Cultural National Interest Asset and one of the seven Wonders of Catalonia. To visit us is a must from the architectural point of view and it is also necessary to know our wine-growing past and the territory of Terra Alta in particular. The building was commissioned on February 19, 1919 to the architect Cèsar Martinell, a disciple of Antoni Gaudí and Puig i Cadafalch. The winery for the production of wines was finished in January 1920. When the first works of the winery were just finished, they commissioned him to make an extension on a plot located on the other side of the road.
From this second project the underground tanks and the oil mill were built, and the rest were completed without the architect's participation. The oil mill was finished in November 1920. In 1980, the architect Manuel Ribas i Piera, following Martinell's project, built a tavern at the back (it is the current visitor hall and office area).
The project of this winery incorporates the four technical novelties (construction and wine production technology) that became typical invariants of Cèsar Martinell's work in almost all of his wineries. These constants are specified in: the construction of the structure of the warehouses based on the parabolic brick arches, the location of the windows for the ventilation of the warehouses, the cylindrical underground tanks separated by ventilated insulating chambers, and the composition and textures of the facades.
During 2011 the building's rehabilitation began and in March 2014 the works were inaugurated. The restoration was financed by La Caixa. During the rehabilitation process, both the exterior and interior facades were acted upon, where all the continuous interior pavements were also rebuilt. Rehabilitation works were also carried out on the water tanks, the waterproofing of the roofs and the adaptation of all the facilities.
A wine cathedral is, in the Catalan sphere, a cooperative winery with a large nave built in the modernist style approximately between 1910 and 1920. The name was created by Àngel Guimerà to refer, initially, to the Cooperativa de la Espluga de Francolí winery and it was later extended to the Cooperativa de Gandesa winery and other similar wineries. The central body is formed by two naves of tubs covered with parabolic arches and brick vaults and arches perpendicular to the entrance door. The two naves are covered at different heights, which allows the entry of light and a smaller dimension of the roof turns. Behind the two central naves there is a third, taller and narrower, covered with a traditional vault where the grapes were received.
Outside, next to the road, some reinforced concrete canopies cover the hoppers where the grapes enter. The two water tanks, similar to the bell towers of the cathedrals, rest on the outer wall of the reception hall, one of them located at an angle and supported by an ingenious footprint. As decoration there are several green glazed ceramic gargoyles, small tiles that decorate the tanks and the entity's coat of arms, made by the ceramist Xavier Nogués with tiles, located in the corner of the building (destroyed during the war and replaced by a reproduction of lower quality).
The large dimensions and the water tanks such as bell towers, make these constructions known as cathedrals of wine.