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What did you want to be when you were growing up? Did you want to be an astronaut, a professional athlete, a leader of the free world, or a jedi knight? This is now such a cliched question it seems almost unfair to even ask. I mean, how many of us ever grow up to be what we wanted? So I’ll ask you this question: what did you want to be when you were in high school or at university?

Incredible backdrop with the mountains protecting the lowlands

Incredible backdrop with the mountains protecting the lowlands

Did you want to be a doctor, entrepreneur, pro athlete, or a jedi knight (ed. Michael has a Star Wars fixation)? These options are a much more obtainable “What-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up”, for the most part. You could study and practice any of these occupations while at school, and achieve it, for the most part. Anyway, you get what I’m saying, right? Still, how many of us actually got to be what we wanted to be coming out of school? Not many, myself included.

Michael and Josep talk varietals and winds.

Michael and Josep talk varietals and winds.

Now, imagine if you did. Those of you who actually did, can stop reading as this article is not for you* (see the disclaimer below). Even better, imagine receiving a phone call guaranteeing your “What-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up” before you even finished your studies. Well, for Josep at Celler *Lavinyeta, this is exactly what happened.

In 2002, while studying oenology, Josep received a call from his father who told him a family friend and grape grower (with no children of his own) wanted to sell his two vineyards. BAM! Just like that, Josep’s dream came true. Just like a young athlete who answers the phone call telling him/her they’re going to the big league, the show, the primetime, so did Josep. Just like that, he was what he wanted to be, a winemaker.

For many young people such early and easy achievement would breed complacency, the sort bringing with it a fall faster than the rise. But this was not the case for Josep. Over the next four years, starting from just four hectares, he worked tirelessly to learn and grow. He worked on his game and this work paid off with the bottling of  *Lavinyeta’s first vintage in 2006. Soon after the word got out, and then the word got around, this young man is good… real good.

Praise and awards came in. Before you knew it, Adidas was calling offering an endorsement deal and his own sneaker designed specifically for winemaking…. Okay, maybe the last part didn’t really happen, but you see the pattern. When you combine talent and success, you receive recognition you deserve. However, this was not enough for Josep. Sure his dream had come true, but how do you make dreams last? For him the answer was to make the dream a way of life.

In the years following,  *Lavinyeta has rehabilitated and revived 500 year old olive trees. *Lavinyeta has raised chickens at the vineyard, and sells the eggs to locals at the vineyard and from his father’s butcher shop in Mollet de Perelada. The chickens eat the grape seeds as their chicken feed, after the grapes have been pressed. This is the dream and it’s more than just winemaking. The oil and eggs, like the wine, are “delish”! If diversifying his game is his way of extending the dream, then Josep has succeeded. All the best evolve to distinguish themselves.

Memorable marketing by *Lavinyeta.

Memorable marketing by *Lavinyeta.

As for this evolution, both Josep’s and *Lavinyeta’s, it is best exemplified by the wine through their three main labels. First, there is the Heus* (from heus aqui, which roughly translates into “once upon a time”). Reminiscent of its maker, these are wines (in a red and a white version) with more character and maturity than you expect from their youth. Second, or perhaps I should say then there is Llavors* (which literally means “then”). This red represents the desire to learn and grow and is a wonderful balance of dark fruit from old vines and new oak. Finally, but certainly not the end, there is Puntiapart*. This wine takes the fruit from some of Emporda’s oldest vines and complexly defines *Lavinyeta’s here and now, while brightly hinting at its future.

As for the here and now, Josep has found a way to share his way of life, his dream, with others in the way of tours and weekend getaways that allow visitors to stay overnight and enjoy breakfast at the vineyard. How do you like your eggs? He’s even planted special flowers that the Romans used to welcome visitors here,  “heus aqui”.

For Josep personally, the here and now of his dream is about pushing boundaries and experimenting with grape varietals, new or uncommon to Catalunya, in the face of climate change, as well as the production of microvins. After all, what good is living the dream if you don’t play within it while it lasts?

Michael making friends and influencing people.

Michael making friends and influencing people.

Oh, and you want to know what’s up with the “*” on every varietal and the *Lavinyeta name? You’ll just have to travel to the vineyard and ask Josep himself. It’s worth the trip. Trust me, I’m a jedi knight.

I never wondered if Josep was happy while I was spending time and talking with him. It was just so clear. Far be it from me to ask such a question like ‘do you know how lucky you are?’ at the risk pinching and waking him, so I didn’t. Oh sure, he may not have the Adidas endorsement deal, yet, but I’m sure he knows how lucky he is to be “What-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up”.

As for the future for Josep and *Lavinyeta? Well I suggest we all spin and crack open a bottle of Puntiapart* and just enjoy what comes.

* I’m only kidding when I said to stop reading. And I am a jedi knight. My son says so.