Thursday, 28 March 2013
The wine that I’d like to present to you today is from the Conca de Barberà region, an area of the Tarragona province in the south of Catalonia. It is also a Denominació d’Origen (Designation of Origin) with a long history relating to the vineyards and winemaking. The only time when winemaking ceased was during a period during the Middle Ages when it was conquered and occupied by the Saracens. Fortunately, at the Early Middle Ages the cultivation of vines slowly recovered as the Catalans started to recapture their lands. In this area vine growing was closely linked to two religious orders: the Cistercians, at the abbey of Poblet, and the Templers, warrior-monks who had settled in the Conca Barberà. These monks helped in the reintroduction of viticulture and they explained to the farmers how to cultivate and look after the vineyards in order to have good wines. All this knowledge was passed on from generation to generation until the present day.
Vine growing increased progressively in the region and before the arrival of phylloxera plague the area was a great exporter of wine, especially to Northern Europe and America. Unfortunately Phylloxera arrived at the beginning of the XIXth century. In spite of this plague, the enthusiasm and knowledge of the farmers wasn’t affected and they decided to regain the vineyards, using all that they learned from previous generations. They joined forces and continued to cultivate vines.
Conca de Barberà was a pioneer in Spain of the co-operative system of wine production; it was in this area in 1894 where the farmers of Barberà de la Conca started the replanting of vineyards and founded the first co-op, linked to viticulture and the wine production.