The living history of Torre del Veguer
When I lived in North America, the wine business became slightly mundane when it came to architecture, marketing, and the typical enotourist visit. It’s as if marketing companies have whitewashed how the wine business is portrayed, or executed (with the exception of Chapter 24 Vineyards), and every vineyard feels they have to fit into a particular demographic wine group. Many of you may know what I mean.
It’s quite refreshing to walk into a building that has gone through several distinct iterations from 1318 until 2014. It’s refreshing to walk through what now resembles a castle to see its origination as a meeting building for the community, then as a place for monks to settle and make wine before the monks left for greener pastures, to owned by several distinct entities/people until 1843 when Jose Ferrer-Vidal took over.
North Americans might say that’s just not fair. But North Americans have always had a distinct jealousy of their European counterparts when it comes to history, architecture, culture, and wine.
And jealous of Torre del Veguer they should be.
We met with the son of current Torre del Veguer president Joaquin Gay de Montella Ferrer Vidal and CEO Marta Estany Bufill, Joaquin Gay de Montella Estany. Joaquin is the export manager for Torre del Veguer, among the other hats he wears. Joaquin isn’t in his position with the winery just because his parents gave it to him, Joaquin studied industrial engineering and is a master in enology, vititculture and wine marketing. Joaquin walked us through the remarkable history of the winery, and the winery is set up to show visitors all those distinct phases.
He showed us the stone vat where monks in the 14th century made wine. He showed us where tunnels, recently discovered, lead to the Mediterranean sea as an escape route from 17th century pirates. He showed us the framed certificate indicating the gold medal his ancestor won for wine in Barcelona at an agricultural fair. He showed us the theatre which was built in the 1800s. He showed us the chapel built just prior to the 20th century.
All of this left us speechless, as we walked around the manicured grounds soaking in almost 700 years of history. Then we saw Dali. I think my jaw broke it hit the ground so hard.
Salvador Dali. The world famous artist.
Dali was friends with Joaquin’s great uncle. Dali would send letters, drawings, and invitations to Joaquin’s great uncle. On the walls of the special Dali room hung original drawings by Dali, signed Dali memorabilia, and a photo of Dali taken by his great-uncle. The connection to Dali has been so treasured by Joaquin’s family, so much so, his father was part of team which helped acquire a key collection of Dali jewels from a Japanese collector in 1999 for 900 million pesetas for the Dali museum in Figueres.
In fact, as part of an homage to the artist, Torre del Veguer has named their signature white and red wines after the “Grapes of Immortality” jewel created by Dali, and currently on display at the Dali Museum. You can see the book of all the jewelry at Torre del Veguer, where the book is proudly displayed in the middle of their Dali collection.
It’s not too often you run across famous works unless you rub shoulders with royalty or billionaires, or pay money to visit a museum. There was something special to be able to enjoy wine, a casual conversation, and enjoy personalised correspondence from an influential and world famous artist. And unlike experiences at say, the Louvre, I could actually touch the frame holding a work created by a world famous art master.
Then there’s the wine. Torre del Veguer’s reputation and ratings are well-known throughout Spain and portions of the world. Their cava is so sought after, aptly called Marta after their president, every year it usually sells out a few months after its release, like this year’s. Torre del Veguer features wines with Muscat, Gala, Xarel·lo, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon. Our favourite (besides Raims de la Immortalitat)? Eclectic.
But this isn’t the only part of Torre del Veguer that is so great. You can even have a wedding or an event on the grounds. The manicured grounds of the castle are surrounded by their vineyards, and on a clear day have a beautiful view of the Mediterranean. They’ve hosted many weddings and many events, with all those who have done so given many gushing reports of the event and the location.
While many other ventures which boast 700 years of traditions sometimes have adopted a corporate attitude towards their clients, Torre del Veguer has chosen to stay true to its roots. Marta, the president, joined us for part of the tour and even gave Michael and I the chance to taste two wines – one halfway through fermentation, and another (Gala) close to bottling. There’s nothing like trying a wine just prior to bottling. Truly.
If you’re looking to spend the day at the beaches of Sitges or Vilanova i la Geltru, and want to add to the experience, it’s a short drive to Torre del Veguer. If you’re an art, history, and wine buff, your senses will be overwhelmed by the experience.
Tim Brown (aka Timmer on social media) has been involved in marketing for over 20 years and a wine enthusiast since his first exposure to Duck Pond Winery in Newberg, Oregon, back in 1995. After coming to Europe in 2012, he made his home in Catalunya in 2013 and became enchanted with the wines and winemakers of the region. Now he shares his experiences so international visitors can enjoy the region’s wines, while continuing his work in the marketing world. Sommeliering and wine snobbery isn´t his thing, and he continues to learn more about wine from a Catalan perspective on a daily basis.