Vallformosa are a historic winery who, despite celebrating their 150 year anniversary in 2015, are at the forefront of modern Cava and wine production. This is a family run business that has a reputation for producing exceptional, and affordable, Cava that can be enjoyed by other families locally and globally. And should you be lucky enough to visit the winery, “like family” during IWINETC is exactly how they will make you feel.
The winery is enclosed by a forest of currently dormant vines and abundant green pastures in the well-known Cava producing region, Penedes. Perhaps the landscape’s beauty inspires the attitudes of the staff members as upon entering Vallformosa´s reception, you are enthusiastically welcomed with open arms and hugs. There is a sweet scent of sparkling wine and it is here that I meet Vallformosa´s cultural guide who excitedly divulges her knowledge about the winery before directing us straight to where the wine-making process starts; the vineyard. We are shown the newest Muscat vines which are a young, 12 years old but still surprisingly gnarly and mature in their appearance. The rich, clay-like soil which encase the plants´roots is vital for the creation of a quality grape. In the distance I can see Vallformosa’s ‘ancient’ vines which, unlike the younger ones, are left to more purist growing methods. The careful cultivation of the fruit in one of nature´s most pristine settings is something that visitors will truly appreciate.
The tour moves within Vallformosa´s gates to the events area which has a traditional ‘finca meets tropical island’ feel to it. The generously sized courtyard is lined with Cuban-imported palm and banana trees and has an inviting swimming pool. Dotted around are old wine barrels which have been recycled into decorative plant holders and overlooking the garden is Vallformosa´s Josep Domènech’s family home; a mere 16 bedroom villa.
The tour highlight is visiting the winery´s very own slice of history which is the old 1920’s cellar, ‘Zona Vinicola’, which has been transformed into a wine museum. The scent of aged wine lingers in this space which has been preserved to demonstrate the old methods used for wine making. Heavy wooden presses, thick rope filters, and mass iron scales rest silently in the stone room where the family´s wines were once aged in underground tanks. There is a natural coolness to this room but this is quickly dissipates as whilst visiting the cellar, the vibrant Josep Domènech himself enters! The 87-year-old business owner kisses me as though I was his own daughter and assures me that I am welcome in his home as it is my home too. His enthusiasm and spirit is contagious and stays with me throughout the rest of the Vallformosa tour.
The rest of the visit sees the newer parts of the winery which is the ultra modern, stainless steel wine-making facilities. Rooms full of high-tech and shiny presses, filters and pumps are a stark contrast to the old cellar and smell of sterilisation. We also visit the deafening bottling area where mechanical arms swiftly move to complete the final processes. Vallformosa leave no doubt in my mind that they have finely tuned their creation of Cava with the ability to fill 6000 bottles per hour! But the main focus of this tour is that even though the wine-making process has been modernised, Vallformosa is a company that savours the sound of the popping of a cork. A sound that signifies celebration and the coming together of friends and family around a glass of sparkling Cava.
Vallformosa are an IWINETC supporter and will be sharing this experience with participants by providing the wines for the conference lunch on the 5th April 2016:
- Origen Brut Nature (97 puntos en 50 Great Cavas 2016)
- Mas La.Sala White 2015 (Xarel.lo, Macabeo & Chardonnay)
- Mas La.Sala Red 2014 (Tempranillo, Cabernet Suavignon, Grenache)