Josep Foraster: the winery’s Trepat grape
The Josep Foraster winery, DO Conca de Barberà, is located at Mas Foraster, on the outskirts of Montblanc. For 150 years, Ricard Sebastià’s family has been producing grapes for family consumption and to sell to the farmers’ co-op. But in 1998, Josep Foraster’s drive led the winery to produce its first two home-grown wines.
The history of the Josep Foraster winery did not begin easily. The idea of building a winery and making their own wine was born in 1995, when Josep Foraster, with the help of his father, decided to create a winery to produce wine with the grapes from the family lands. In 1998, the winery was ready and the first two wines were produced: Josep Foraster Cosecha and Josep Foraster Crianza. The following year, after five years of struggle, Josep Foraster died of cancer.
This blow of fate forced the family to decide on the future of the winery, which had only just opened. Ricard Sebastià, who was 17 years old at the time, explains, admiringly and proudly, that his mother, Julieta Foraster, decided to take over the business: “My mother worked in the tourism sector, and what’s more, she didn’t drink wine. But when my grandfather suggested going ahead, only if one of his two daughters wanted to, because he no longer felt strong enough -he was over 70 years old-, my mother said she wanted to try”.
And then Ricard Sebastià started to get involved in the world of wine: “At that time I was studying law, but every weekend I went home and helped out as much as I could. I also did a master’s degree in oenology and qualified as a sommelier. In fact, I never finished Law, because I became fully involved in the family business. I couldn’t say the exact day, but the world of viticulture and winemaking got me hooked”. He confesses that his first ten years in front were very hard, but now things are back on track.
Organic and biodynamic
Currently, Josep Foraster produces 170,000 bottles, employs eight people, and exports 40% of the production. The remaining bottles are sold in Catalonia and only 5% in Spain. All the production is made with grapes from their own vineyards, as well as some vineyards rented from local farmers.
Production is 100% organic and, for some years now, part of it has been biodynamic. Respect for the land and the plants is important to Sebastià and the work carried out, both in viticulture and vinification, always seeks to reduce the presence of chemical products in the vineyard as much as possible and to be as non-interventionist as possible. He always takes advice and keeps a close eye on market trends.
Faced with the challenge posed by climate change, Ricard Sebastià acknowledges that it is a reality that worries him: “Despite the fact that in Conca de Barberà we have an advantage: our DO has the highest vineyards, with the coldest temperatures. We are planting at a very high altitude, about 600 metres above sea level. Given such irregular climate, we are foresighted, and plan to build a well to irrigate the vines. The idea is to build the well and extract water with energy from solar panels. We also plan to build cisterns to collect rainwater”.
Another trait that characterises the winery’s spirit is that it works to recover native varieties: “For years now,” explains Ricard Sebastià, “the winery’s work philosophy is to recover native varieties: Trepat, Macabeo, Garnatxa. For us, the flagship grape variety is the Trepat, given that of the 1,100 hectares in the world, 1,000 are in Conca de Barberà. And we seek to differentiate our product, from the land, through diversity, because very good wines are made all over the world, but giving them their own character is what makes yours different”. The winery produces two kinds of single-varietal wines: four 100% Trepat wines and two 100% Macabeo wines.
Products of the land
One of the important branches of the business is wine tourism. Ricard Sebastià explains that, almost since they opened, the winery has been visited by wine tourists. The visits they organise consist of showing the wine-growing landscape (the winery is located on the outskirts of Montblanc, surrounded by vineyards); they offer lunches based on local and Conca de Barberà products; they do wine tasting, and so on. Visitors can also enjoy a small museum where the family exhibits tools used in the vineyard and the winery.
In 2012, the Josep Foraster winery won the Vinari d’Or for its young black wine Josep Foraster Collita.
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