In the mid-1880s the Priorat was enjoying one of its periods of great prosperity. When phylloxera hit France, winemakers there looked to the Priorat to fulfill their needs. Negotiants bought in bulk. Planting increased and the landscape was covered with vines as far as the eye could see.
But then France stopped allowing imports and Spain lost its colonies. No one was buying the wines anymore. Finally, phylloxera found its way over the Pyrenees, spreading its devastation into the Priorat. There was no money to replant and people were forced to move to the cities to make a living. The vineyards disappeared into overgrowth. The Priorat was wild again.
The Priorat has experienced firsthand how sustainability is a matter for more than just the land. Sustainability is a delicate balance that requires attention to both natural and societal growth; cultivated and forest lands, mechanization versus tradition, biodiversity, the availability of natural resources and energy, and tourism all contribute to a sustainable outcome.
Gazing out into the landscape, listening to the sounds of life, one recognizes why this tiny place in the middle of Catalunya is an oasis worth preserving. History has delivered great highs and intense lows to the Priorat, so the impulse to get what you can while you can is a matter of survival. But at the same time, people are fiercely protective of their land. They know what it means to their survival. Perhaps, in the past, the ebbs and flows of prosperity happened in order to manage the growth of the region. Maybe now, with greater accessibility to outside ideas, the Priorat can continue to thrive without compromising sustainability.
Ethos Priorat is vividly panoramic. It is best viewed in landscape format to fully enjoy the experience.