La Vinyeta is a small vineyard located in Alt Empordà (Catalonia). Their vision for this project started when the owners, Marta and Josep, were still in college. They brought back the idea of the traditional country house that blends with its beautiful surroundings. They make their own wine, olive oil, vinegar and eggs, all while using sustainable and integrated farming practices. To understand this better, we spoke to Josep about his exciting project.
Why have the wines from Empordà become so popular?
I believe that during the past few years there has been a change both inside and outside of the vineyards. Inside the vineyards, besides improving the quality, we have also changed the way we communicate with each other within the industry. There are about 15 to 20 of us all fairly young, passionate and very knowledgeable about our wines. We collaborate to help each other promote our region’s wines. On the other hand, there has also been a change outside of the vineyards with our customers. There is a younger consumer group that is constantly looking to try new and different wines. They have also shown a great appreciation for local wines. This generational change both inside and outside is revolutionizing the Empordà wine, and, I would say the Catalan wines in general.
What is your history? How did you and Marta decide to get involved in the wine industry together?
Everything started in 2002 by chance. A man from Mollet de Perelada offered some old vineyards to my father. This man had been taking care of them for all his life, but he had no children and decided to sell them. Our families did not come from the wine industry. At that time, Marta and I were studying agricultural engineering and we loved the idea of combining the theory with practical studies. We bought the vineyards with the condition of having him teach us everything we needed to know about running a vineyard. Little by little we learned and planted more vines until we became La Vinyeta.
What is the key to making a good wine?
The vines are always the most important. They determine 99% of the quality of a wine. They are very delicate. In the vineyard, we need to be careful to protect the grapes from damage. It is essential to make an investment in the land to ensure top-notch quality and healthy vines.
What is your philosophy as producers?
We are what we eat. It may sound too obvious and you may have heard this many times before, but we truly believe in this statement. We pay a lot of attention in the creation of our products since we believe they will become a part of you after you have them. That’s why we follow Integrated Production practices. This allows us to work in an environmentally friendly place and to ensure the quality and viability of the farm.
Could you please explain to us briefly what Integrated Production is?
Integrated Production takes into account ethical principles as well as the safety of people working on the farm. It also considers the harmony with the environment and encourages natural pest control. For example, we use bat nesting boxes because it is an insectivore that helps us fight a small moth that causes damage to the vines without using pesticides.
Besides wine, you also have chickens, make olive oil and vinegar. Why do you support diversification?
We want to bring back the concept of traditional, environmentally friendly country houses. Before, people would grow or make many products in their country houses. In the 1950s, due to the introduction of pesticides, this pattern was lost and single crop farming started. In La Vinyeta we are trying to return to our origins. We are making a little bit of everything, as sustainable and diversified as possible, in order to offer a wide variety to our customers.
Is there a product that you would like to sell someday that you are not making right now?
We are currently working on producing our own cheese. This would be a great complement to the products that we already produce.
In La Vinyeta you’ve taken great care of your brand image. What was the inspiration?
My brother is a graphic designer and he created our brand image. He is a very creative person and is very involved with the project. He knows the background of the vineyard well. Regarding the name, La Vinyeta means “small vineyard” but also “vignette” as in comic. With our name, we wanted to communicate that we are small vineyard that also tells stories with our wines. I think we accomplished just that.
“I already learned the most important things from my parents who were entrepreneurs and very hardworking people. They taught me my values and the values that I have brought to La Vinyeta. They are our most important asset.”
You organize many activities in La Vinyeta such as dinners under the starts or poetry contests.
Why has La Vinyeta become such a significant center for locals?
We believe we are an open winery and we love to give people excuses to visit us. We like to explain what we are doing so we have created our own opportunities to do that by hosting these events. We feel fortunate that people are attracted and interested in our business. That gives us the opportunity to have a very personal yet direct approach.
What type of restaurants or shops do you prefer to sell your wines?
We try to sell to restaurants and shops that appreciate quality and local products. Instead of looking for big clients, we look for people who care about what they sell and that are committed to our project. Celler de Can Dani is a shop that has had our wines from the beginning. You’ll always find Dani at his shop recommending the wines. He is very familiar with our project.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
The most rewarding part is seeing a group of people at a random restaurant enjoying our wine. I can still remember the first time that happened to us. It was a wonderful feeling.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from this craft?
I already learned the most important things from my parents who were entrepreneurs and very hardworking people. They taught me my values and the values that I have brought to La Vinyeta. They are our most important asset.
What do you do when you are not working?
Many times we don’t know if we are working or enjoying. We could say that we work and enjoy seven days a week. For us, La Vinyeta is a way of life.
Finally, would you please recommend an artisan to us?
I would recommend Manel from Mas Marcè. He makes outstanding cheeses and has a great appreciation for his craft as well.
Carretera de Mollet a Masarac. 17752 Mollet de Peralada (Girona)