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”.

Autochthonous varieties

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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The first edition of the Biennial of Catalan Crafts will be open until September 19, a proposal promoted by the Catalan Government to showcase and transport Catalan artisan talent around the world.

 

It is a project promoted by the crafts area of the Consorci de Comerç, Artesania i Moda (CCAM) of the Generalitat, and has the support of the Associació de Galeries d’Art de Catalunya (GAC). Jordi Torrades, director general of the CCAM, emphasised the project’s intention to internationalise Catalan art and crafts and bring them prestige and recognition.

 

Internationalising art through Visions of Catalonia                                                    

The central axis of the event is the exhibition Visions of Catalonia. Crafting Art, a format that will be repeated every two years with the aim to showcase local talent. This year it focuses on contemporary art and craft creation and features the work of 31 Catalan artists. It can be visited until September 19 at the Centre d’Artesania de Catalunya, at Carrer Banys Nous, 11, Barcelona. Next year, there are plans to move the exhibition to new international venues.                                                                                  

Directed by David Plazas and curated by Mónica Ramon and Rubèn Torres, the aim is for this space to serve as a loudspeaker for the dissemination of new expressions of contemporary art in our country, creating a platform from which local artists can show and disseminate their work, but also what lies behind it. The final result is as important as the process of getting there, and that is why the exhibition emphasises the technique, the concept, the materials and the trade of craftsmanship with all what it encompasses. Techniques such as paper, metal, ceramics, wood and textiles will be on display.

You can discover the artists of this first edition of Visions of Catalonia here.

Visibility and recognition to promote craftsmanship

The visibility and internationalisation of Catalan art is a key point in the cultural development of a country, but we must go further. Artists and artisans seek to make a living from their craft, at a time in society when technology has displaced a large part of craft techniques, dehumanising the creative processes. In this sense the CCAM launched a campaign to promote the consumption of artisan products. Under the hashtag #ConsumeixArtesania, a search engine has been created. It lists all places where you can buy these products in Catalonia.

It is just as important to recognise the work of artisans as it is to prevent products being marketed under the label of craftsmanship, which really are not. To avoid this, in Catalonia there are craftwork cards, which grant the final consumer the certainty that the product has been made with natural or recycled raw materials, and that it has not been industrially produced in order to be marketed.

The wide range of artisan producers in Catalonia shows the good health of this sector, which, in addition to the boost of international visibility, needs local recognition and the support of consumers to continue growing and finding its place in the era of industrial consumption.

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We discover how the final tasting of the awards is organised at the Celler de Rubí, in a ritual ceremony to select the best wines of Catalonia.

 

An old cellar, with thick walls supported by large wine vats, hosted the best wines of Catalonia for hours. Only the organisers were allowed into the room where these influential wines were being served. Total secrecy. There, wines were waiting to be tasted, one after the other, separated by categories and with a cover that prevented the label from being read. Outside, around twenty sommeliers, oenologists, and wine critics sat at the tables and received instructions. This is how the Celler de Rubí held the final tasting of the Vinari 2021 Awards on Monday.

“This space is for us a jewel, our cathedral, a journey into the past to look to the future with enthusiasm. It is up to you today to discover the best wines produced in Catalonia. It is an honour for the city”, the mayoress of Rubí, Ana María Martínez, began to celebrate. The facility has witnessed this final tasting since the birth of the awards, which this year celebrate their ninth edition. The truth is that all wines that will be tasted this Monday at the Celler de Rubí are excellent: they are the finalists that stood out in the first phase from among nearly 200 that registered. The 11Onze team, which is an official sponsor, has been a luxury spectator of the event. 

With precise instructions from the director of the awards, Ester Bachs, tasters have begun the ritual. “Wines are here to score”, she pointed out. Bachs conducted the event with scrupulous respect and reminded the attendees that the Vinari Awards continue to be held and to support the wine sector, which is suffering the effects of the pandemic, but also of the weather after this year several areas of the country have suffered droughts. Then, she began to explain how to use the tablets for the scoring, went on to detail the scoring scale, which goes from 1 to 100, and that is not expected to go below 80, and finally, she cleared up doubts.

Value like a goldsmith, taste like a fan

The tasters get impatient. They tidy up the table and fidget in their chairs. Organisers have arranged them four by four, on large tables with string tablecloths. The glasses are placed around the table, the tablet on one side, and on the other, paper and pencil. The ceremony begins: first the whites are served, then the blacks, and finally the sparkling and sweet wines. Tasters celebrate with each wine a feast that begins with the sight, continues with the nose, and ends with the tasting. 

Jordi Martínez, oenologist, sommelier, and owner of a select wine shop in Guissona, the Selecte Wine Store, tells us that he has participated in the awards almost from the beginning and that his passion for wines runs in his family because despite being from the Lleida region, which produces little wine compared to other areas of Catalonia, he has had his own production.

Under the distracted gaze of his companions, Martínez explains that each wine is assessed separately and that none of the wines they taste is bad. Sometimes, he admits, the taster has a special bond with some wines, because they have a strange touch that only a true fan can perceive, but at the end of the day, they must select those wines that will be valued in a wide market. Despite being a blind tasting, the winemaker also acknowledges that, if they pay enough attention, the more experienced tasters even know what area the wine comes from and what grapes it is made from. In the final tasting, however, they are not asked to do any analysis other than that of the palate. And although the scoring is individual, tasters at each table can share their impressions. 

 

-I won’t tell you what smell comes to my mind…

-Why? Tell us, come on…

-I smell a damp rag smell…

-Yes, yes, you’re not wrong… -I smell like marijuana if I’m honest…

-Don’t you? -It’s like a tomato plant!

-For me, it’s an 84!

 

The wines with the best scores during the final tasting will be announced at the Gala de Tardor to be held on Friday, October, 8, at Vilafranca del Penedès Auditorium, a day full of surprises, that will be possible to follow live on Televisió de Catalunya. The awards ceremony will also recognise the best professional career in the world of wine, the best label, the best winery, the best taster, and the best ecological project, as well as the best innovative initiative and wine tourism promotion. 

The Vinari Awards for Catalan wines, organised by the digital newspaper VADEVI.cat, were created in 2013 with the aim of raising awareness of the excellence of the wines produced in the country and to guide the final consumer on the diversity and quality of local wine projects. In the Rubí winery, under the watchful eye of the vats, we leave them deliberating.

 

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Celler Rubí is once again hosting the awards ceremony, which this year celebrates their ninth edition and of which 11Onze is the main sponsor

 

The month of the final tasting has arrived. On Monday 13 September, the Vinari 2021 Awards will select the finalists from the nearly 200 wines that have passed the first phase in the categories of whites, reds and crianza sparkling wines, as well as fortified, rancid and sweet wines. While the best young wines were chosen in the summer, this autumn there are still a few more categories to be decided. 

Nearly twenty professionals will take part in a tasting day at Celler Rubí, in the ninth edition of the awards, for which 11Onze is the main sponsor. Sommeliers, oenologists, members of the INCAVI tasting panel and opinion leaders from the Catalan wine sector, will give their marks to the wines that have passed the first phase and that are now competing to be the best Catalan references of the year.

The big party will be the autumn gala

The final Vinari Awards ceremony will be held at the beginning of October at the Auditorium of Vilafranca del Penedès, in a gala that Televisió de Catalunya will broadcast live. The Vinari Awards give medals in five categories: Vinari Great Gold, Vinari of Gold, Vinari of Silver and Best Catalan Wine of the Year. At the same time, the blind-tasted wines with the best scores will be announced at the event. 

At the awards ceremony, Catalan wineries will also be recognised with special prizes for their professional careers in the world of wine, the best hashtag, the best organic project, the best winery, the best wine taster and the best initiative for innovation and tourism promotion in Catalonia.

The Vinari Awards organized by the VADEVI.cat portal, which includes up to thirteen DO (denominations of origin) in Catalonia, promote the country’s wines and stimulate responsible consumption and local commerce. They are also a showcase for all Catalan wineries, which find in them a space for international projection. The awards, in short, disseminate the culture, the territory and the quality of Catalan wines among consumers.

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The MontRubí winery is located in l’Avellà, a small neighborhood in the municipality of Font-rubí, in the highest part of the Alt Penedès. This summer they have opened a hotel as a complement to the winemaking and to the restaurant, which have been running for a year.

 

The winery was founded in 1984. The grandmother and father of Alejo Peris, the current owner, and manager of MontRubí, were pharmacists who had always liked the world of winemaking. Their desire to make a good wine determined them to open a winery. The reason why this winery is located in l’Avellà is due to the fact that the grandmother was a close friend of Paquita Miró Feixes, owner of several farms in this area. Grandmother and father acquired land from the Miró family, as well as several buildings, where they located the winery. With the help of winemaker Josep Queralt, they started the project 35 years ago.

Pioneers worldwide

MontRubí currently cultivates 50 hectares of vineyards. When they started producing they did it through cava. Alejo Peris tells us that by the time of Barcelona Olympic Games, in 1992, the cava sector experienced a surge, but, years later, the great competition and good products on the market, added to price devaluation, forced many small companies to close doors or to reshape: “We reinvented ourselves and began to bet on the recovery of indigenous varieties,” says Alejo Peris.

In 1998, they began researching the native variety of Sumoll and two years later they produced the first 100% Sumoll wine in the world. “It’s our flagship product, and it’s called Gaitus,” says Peris, who explains that Sumoll “is not an easy grape to work with, neither to sell.” But when they decided to recover the Sumoll and make the first monovarietal wine out of this autochthonous grape, “that was the moment when our philosophy as a winery was born”.

Committed to the environment

At the moment, MontRubí has ​​a line of Sumoll on the market, with five different wines, and one with a blend of Grenache and Samsó. The idea of ​​working with local monovarietal wine still guides them, and now they are vinifying Malvasia, despite it is a variety that is often planted along the coast and which is characteristic of Garraf: “We have planted it on a farm, over 500m of altitude, with a continental rather than mediterranean climate. In fact, our intention is to continue making monovarietal wines with local grapes. In black: Sumoll, Grenache and Samsó, and in white: Xarel·lo, Parellada and Macabeu ”.

For four years, all MontRubí lands have been certified as organic farming, “we try to work in the vineyard and in the winery with the minimum mechanical intervention, reducing the carbon footprint as much as possible. We work in a way that respects the environment as much as possible, and as a differentiating element from other wineries, in the new one that was renovated in 2016, we work at different heights which, in addition to a calmer treatment for the vinification process, it allows us to save on pumps use and thus, on energy costs.”

 

Gastronomic wine tourism

The principles of the winery have focused on three parts: working on the farm, with the utmost respect for the land, with micro plots and organic farming; the second branch, producing quality, organic and vegan wines; and the third, offering high quality enotourism.

As for wine tourism, for a year now, they have opted for a gastronomic enotourism in which “visitors sit around the table, enjoy excellent dishes and taste our quality wines, while they enjoy our vineyards views, well maintained and forming a beautiful garden ”, says Alejo Peris. He explains that the wine tourism project has been expanded with the launch, last September, of a ten-room hotel and of other activities that increase the offer to wine tourists.

 

Growth

Alejo Peris is in charge of the project since 2017. He is happy to say that since he is  100% dedicated to the project, it has grown from all points of view and that the pandemic has not fully affected them: “We closed the year 2020 with better numbers than in 2019 and, in 2021, we are going to close with better figures than in 2020”. And this is a success for the whole team I work with, from the farmer, to the winemaker, the winery man, the chef, and waiters, all of whom we have been able to reinvent ourselves and adapt to reality ”.

This year, Celler MontRubí has been the winner of 2 Vinari awards: Vinari d’Or, in the category of young red wines, with the wine Black 2020, 100% Grenache, and Vinari de Plata, in the category of young white wines, with White 2020, 100% xarel·lo.

 

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ageism, age discrimination, is the third leading cause of inequality in the world, after racism and masculinity. WHO defines it as “stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination based on age”

 

People who have lost their jobs over 50, people who have to live in nursing homes, or people who suffer age discrimination when taking out health insurance, applying for loans or volunteering, know it really well. However, ageism is such an unknown term that it is not even included in the Dictionary of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (Institute of Catalan Studies) or in the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy).

Montse Celdrán Castro, a psychogerontologist at the University of Barcelona, ​​describes ageism based on three elements: stereotypes ⎼, for example, saying that older people do not master technologies ⎼, feelings ⎼ such as the fear of getting old ⎼, and discriminatory behaviours ⎼ like treating people differently due to their apparent age.

 

A stereotyped society

Ageism affects women more than men, mainly because women live longer. In addition, although the trend has changed, for generations the female figure was associated with household chores, be it within her own house or others’, but without contributions, which meant that their access to other better-paid jobs was impeded, just as their options to any pension. Besides having direct consequences in terms of economic resources, the fact that this occurred on a general basis also had social consequences.

However, ageism is not limited to older people. Young people also suffer prejudice and labour exploitation, among other possible discriminations. Being “too young” can mean that your opinions are not taken into account, that salaries are lower, or that even the figure of the scholar is abused, and job insecurity is perpetuated. So we could say that ageism can take place either by excess (for being too old) or by default (too young).

Both, the image of an elderly person with a cap and cane sitting on a bench, chatting and feeding pigeons, and the image of young people drinking on the same bench, are mere stereotypes that do not correspond to reality, which is much more complex and diverse.

 

How does society react to ageism?

Just as it happens with other inequality matters, either because of a lack of awareness, or because these are behaviours rooted in our society, or even because little is known about them, ageism is an issue that, despite its graveness, it often goes unnoticed: virtually invisible, but deeply rooted in our society.

Advertising and the audiovisual industry also play an essential role, and not always with a positive connotation. In most pictures, the tendency is to highlight young people, while cornering the old ones. An increasing practice in digital environments, which tends to enhance the immediacy and speed of processes.

Age is negatively associated with ineptitude, to being dependant, and to the risk of suffering from certain diseases. But behind this idea, reality shows that age means experience, and this is certainly a point to mirror and not to set aside.

 

Initiatives against ageism

Despite there is still a long way to go, society is beginning to become aware of it. Scientific, health, and social organizations from 43 countries have promoted a global campaign against ageism under the slogan  #OldLivesMatter.

From October 1,  2021 (International Day of Older Persons) to November 20, 2021 (World Children’s Day), the World Health Organization is launching an ambitious global campaign with the slogan Combatting Ageism, which will initially include content focused on older people, to gradually shift to young people.

 

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11Onze, the first fintech community in the Catalan Countries, made its first public appearance at the Palo Market Fest and became the first service company to participate in this well-known festival of crafts, design and gastronomy. In this chronicle, we explain how this special weekend went.

 

  • Toni Mata

11Onze stand is the last one before leaving the Concept Gallery in Palo Alto. Next to it, you find Reliqium, a start-up that allows you to save memories in a pendant. Opposite is a goldsmith and, a little further on, a designer who sells Mad Max-worthy sunglasses with metal spikes like those of a punk’s jacket. Outside, a DJ plays bosanova while some young people sip cocktails with flavoured tonics. Music arrives muffled within the Gallery and blends in with the sound of conversations.

In the midst of this festive and bohemian atmosphere, the flood of people stroll up to the 11Onze stand. There, Joan and Mireia, on Saturday, and Pol and Sara on Sunday, are waiting for them with a tablet to show 11Onze to all those who do not know us. A man in a coloured shirt points to the 11Onze sign and says something to his wife. He picks a card and takes it. 

The marketing team is clear about why 11Onze has come to the Palo Market Fest: “We are here to make new friends”, explains CMO Gemma Vallet. And that’s what the company has been doing all weekend. Introducing itself to people who may not know us yet, establishing ties with the Z generation that fills the festival, and discovering the stories of entrepreneurs who are starting up their companies.

This last point was key: how do you start a company? When do you realise that you are passionate about your idea? What do you do to make it succed? At the 11Onze stand we talked about it with entrepreneurs who had come to Palo Market. To learn about their experiences and share them in videos at La Plaça soon. To spread the word to these entrepreneurs who are trying to raise an idea. That’s what  Love Stories project is all about, a series of conversations where we are going to discover how these people think, people who are capable of having an idea and carrying it out, even if at some point it may seem crazy.

People who already knew 11Onze passed by the 11Onze stand and asked for details about the status of the application test. We have seen promoters such as Carlos Juanico as well as many 11Onze employees (Xevi, Sandra, Miriam, Pilar… and many others) all of them excited about the company’s final launch line.

And people who didn’t know 11Onze and who discovered us at the festival, what did they say? That it was time for it. That we need a fintech. That agility is needed. And they all wondered when it will be available. And to everyone who was in a hurry to operate with us, we told them what Ramon told us on Saturday afternoon. Ramon is a user of La Plaça, he is retired and lives in Barcelona. When he heard that 11Onze was doing its first face-to-face event, he came to see what was going on. To greet us. To explain to us that he is waiting for 11Onze to open to put his savings in. But that we should not be in a hurry: “oaks grow more slowly than pines, but they are stronger”. When he said that I told him that we had to take a photo. “But don’t post it on internet,” he said. We took it, and he asked me to pass it on via WhatsApp. After he had the photo he saved my number and said: “I already have a contact. I’ve done enough”. He thanked us and left.

Yet, music was going on and people were enjoying the festival. Mireia and Joan were still talking to clients, more people with colourful clothes strolled along the Concept Gallery. And I was still thinking about Ramon, who probably was already back home and who will call me when he sees that accounts can be opened.

GenZ with 11Onze at the Palo Market Fest

The festival is the GenZ’s reference meeting place in Barcelona. On Sunday, the 11Onze stand reflected this fact with the interview that the youth culture expert Jordi Chicletol made to singer Keyne. During the interview, the singer explained that her generation has never thought of banks as a financial support eager to help entrepreneurs, brands, companies or artists. That’s why she wants to give voice to 11Onze, because it can support projects of people of her generation.

We also spoke with emerging fashion designer Ugo Boulard, whose designs are trending among Barcelona’s Gen Z celebrities.

The event had an impact on LE COOL magazine Barcelona, ​​a key guide for discovering innovative initiatives in the city of Barcelona, ​​a cult magazine of emerging culture.

11Onze brand stands out by its current design, minimalist and full of personality, thanks to its colour palette and its commitment to yellow. Agents, in line with the brand, at the Palo Alto Market Fest wore a sporty chic style with brands such as COLE HAAN and Nautica, of the BASI Group.

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11Onze is a pioneer by being the first financial company to land at the Palo Alto venue, this 4 and 5 September.

 

The festival of crafts and design of Barcelona celebrates this weekend its monthly edition, in which 11Onze will be present. The festival, focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, leisure, and culture, opens the doors to the first fintech community in Catalonia, in the final stretch of its launch.

For the company, which is currently in the testing phase of the financial application, this will be the first contact and meeting point with the members of the community, created from La Plaça. At the same time, it will give visibility to all those who do not yet know the project and want to be part of it.

During the Palo Alto Market Fest, 11Onze invites creators, entrepreneurs, and business people to recount their stories of love. “Stories of love… simple and short” are micro-video interviews that will take place at the 11Onze stand with people who want to explain their project. The video will be published in La Plaça, and in other media to help in getting more visibility. If you are a creative person, entrepreneur, or in business, you will know that setting up a company or a project is like a great love story, one of those loves that you never forget. 11Onze invites you to make them even more memorable.

In this edition, Palo Market Fest will feature more than forty brands from different sectors, especially design and crafts, and will also host a wide gastronomic offer and live music to liven up the weekend.

Buy your ticket

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Love and respect for the land, together with art, make the Blanch i Jové winery, in the Costers del Segre DO, a unique place for tasting good wines and strolling through nature and art.

 

In the Garrigues region, at an altitude of over 700 metres, we find the Mas Blanch i Jové winery. It is a young winery, born 15 years ago, the result of the initiative of Sara Jové’s parents, the current manager, who fell in love with the region and bought a piece of land where vines, almond, and olive trees were grown. Sara Jové explains that their love of the land goes back a long way: “Her godparents and great-great-grandparents were already working the land, and these origins made their parents decide to start this project in Les Garrigues, despite the fact that their origins are from La Segarra and Urgell”.

 

Sustainability as a distinctive feature

Mas Blanch i Jové wines come from the Costers del Segre D.O. (Denominació d’Origen), a sub-zone of the Garrigues region. The estate is 700 metres above sea level, has stony soil, is poor in organic matter, and produces low yields. Sara defines the project as organic and sustainable: “Everything we do is organic. In all the products we produce: wine, oil, and almonds, no pesticides or herbicides are used” and she proudly adds: “The bodega runs 100% on energy that comes from solar panels, 110 panels with 48 batteries, and we have a water purification system”. She also highlights the work they do to recover the stone walls, which they consider not only the cultural heritage of the area, but they also value for the work they do to prevent erosion of the land and the creation of natural ditches.

“We work to be part of the solution to the environmental problem. We are concerned about climate change, but we are working to prevent it. Drought has become chronic and, without water, there is no life. We have irrigation to support the vines, with the drop-by-drop system. It is the only way to keep the vines alive. And we have to work in a way that does not deplete the land’s resources. It has to be a sustainable way of working, so that the land regenerates itself, without stressing it”. He says that their philosophy is summed up in respect for nature and the environment, a fact that makes them aware of where they are: in a dry, very Mediterranean area, with fauna and flora that are very characteristic of the area, which they try to look after and protect, even providing watering places for the animals.

A family business

Sara Jové defines Mas Blanch i Jové wines as wines with character and personality, faithful to the landscape that has seen them grow: “They are powerful, fresh, with concentration and structure, which is what our stony land gives us. We work with native varieties such as Macabeo, Garnatxa Blanca, Garnatxa Negra, Garnatxa Peluda, and we are involved in an experimental project to recover old varieties. We are always looking to make the best wine, and we experiment, as if it was a game of fun, to achieve it”.

Sara’s father is a blacksmith, her brother an industrial engineer, and her cousin an agronomist. They all took part in the construction of the winery, which is built into a hill, “what we did was to take out the mountain, build the winery, and put the mountain back in. The winery is the result of a project that is totally integrated into the landscape and designed to work with the utmost respect for the environment,” she explains. The winery was born with the collaboration of Josep Guinovart, a painter and friend of the family. He made them appreciate the importance of integrating art and wine and is the one who designed the different spaces of the winery and launched the idea of the artists’ vineyard, which is an open-air exhibition hall where, among vines and olive trees, sculptures and art installations coexist.

In fact, along a two-kilometre route through the vineyards, visitors can find sculptures and art installations that have been distributed over the last ten years. The winery has created an application through which the visitor can find out where each piece is, what its name is, who made it and when it was installed. This idea of linking wine and art arose spontaneously, in a meeting, and Guinovart suggested making this installation in a field that at the time did not even belong to the family. When our friend suddenly died,” explains Sara Jové, “we decided to buy that field of almond trees, we planted vines and the following year the first art installation was made. It was a tribute to him and a way of mourning. Over time, this has become an identifying element of the winery”.

 

Enotourism

Art-related activities do not stop. And, despite the pandemic, the Bodega has not stopped programming. Although the idea is not to do an art feature every year, it is true that since the Art Vineyard was inaugurated, they have not stopped doing features. Art is an identifying element of the winery and complements it. Enotourism activities serve to publicise their products, which they make with care and promote with passion. Their clients are basically national, in the restaurant industry, and they export 30% of their products.

The synergy between art, oenology, and nature has made Mas Blanch i Jové a unique winery in the Costers del Segre region.

 

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The Oller del Mas winery, DO Pla de Bages, is located three kilometres from Manresa, between Montserrat and Cardené, and shares the passion of making wine with wellness and wine tourism. The family lineage has a long history of relationship with the land and, intermittently, with winemaking. The family of Frank Margenat, the current manager and owner, is known to have been in the family since 964. He is the 36th generation.

 

  • Wine tourism

For Frank Margenat, wine tourism is the core of the business and is linked to personal wellbeing.

“The long family history, the work that is done every day on the land, in the winery, we give value to it with wine tourism. Visitors can directly experience the work we do, who we are, and where we come from. For us, it is very important to listen to people, to see their reaction when they taste our wine. It is like closing the circle of everything we do, with a complete experience”.

He considers that there is still a long way to go in the field of wine tourism, despite the fact that “things are being done very well”. He says that there is a general problem in the country, “we don’t give value to everything we have to offer. That is why we have wines with very low prices compared to those offered in other parts of the world”. For him, the best way to give value is to open the doors of the winery and show what they do, from the work in the vineyard to the work in the cellar. “It’s also a way of putting pressure on ourselves because if you show what you do directly to the customer, and you see their reaction, you know what they like and what they don’t like, and they put pressure on you to improve it.”

  • Wellness cellar

Achieving personal wellbeing is the guideline for all the services that can be found at Bodega Oller del Mas. Everything revolves around achieving the visitor’s wellbeing, whether it be through the accommodation service (there are 20 cabins), the restaurant, the Club Innat, wellness (health and beauty), etc. We want to be the wellness winery, not just here, but from the rest of the planet,” explains Frank Margenat, “we have many departments and many services, from horse riding, bike rental, health check-up, etc., with the aim to achieve total wellness. We offer services ranging from nutrition to non-invasive cosmetic surgery. Always guided by the philosophy of respect for the environment, all treatments and products are based on natural products and some of them based on grape products”.

Oller del Mas’ target is the Catalan market, although in 2019 they received more than 65,000 visits from international tourists, mainly Asian and North American. Their product is aimed at the local customer. “A good wine can be found anywhere in the world. But the one we have can only be experienced here, in the heart of Catalonia. The characteristics of our wines are a reflection of the land where we grow them”. At Oller del Mas they are aware of where they are, and they plant the grape varieties that are best suited to the terroir they work in. With the work of the last few years they have been able to prove that the ancestral varieties are the ones that adapt best and give excellent results. They have recovered varieties such as picapoll and malvasia manresana and have launched a 100% single-varietal wine on the market: “We have put a lot of effort into recovering these varieties that give us more identity, more expressiveness, more authenticity because they reflect the climate and the surrounding landscape”. His philosophy of respect for the environment means that all the work in the vineyards is carried out with ecological treatments and, in recent years, also with techniques based on biodynamics.

  • We are responsible for what we do

Frank Margenat looks to the future with optimism and at the same time with caution. He believes that people are responsible for what they do and says that those who work in the countryside, with agriculture and the landscape, have to take special care.

He explains that if Oller del Mas has reached the 36th generation, it is because it has had this global vision: “Bearing in mind that we come from so many generations, when I make decisions, I think about what effect that action will have in 10, 30, 50, 100 years’ time. When you look at things from this global, longer-term perspective, you are less likely to make mistakes, and the repercussions for the family and the environment are fewer”.

As an example of this philosophy, at Oller del Mas we find that the accommodation service is in 20 cabins, which are built with natural materials, fully integrated into the landscape, powered by renewable energies (solar, geothermal, and aero thermal) and perfectly insulated.

Margenat explains that next year they want to achieve a negative carbon footprint in the entire winemaking process.

Oller del Mas works to offer the best product and contribute to the wellbeing of the people who enjoy their wines and services. This work has been awarded several times, and this year it has received the Vinari award for the Best Premium Wine Tourism Activity of the Year for the visit to the winery with wine-tasting and paired menu with the winemaker and the owner of the winery. It has also been recognised as one of the best vineyards in this wine-growing landscape.

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