About Ethos Priorat

I came upon you as your new lover gave you a lovely little box. But it wasn’t a box: it was a book; and it wasn’t your lover — it was me who gave you a box of watercolors in the colors of the rainbow. — J. V. Foix, Diary 1918 (Fragments)

The words of J. V. Foix, a famous Catalan poet, possess for me the spirit inside this land and this project. My newfound love is for the Priorat. It has given me a vivid, colorful experience of life. I had planned to tell its story as a book, but for now it has found its form in this website.

The Priorat has all the elements of a great story. There is a hero, René Barbier, who came in the late 1970s with a dream to make wine with friends. A simple human story became a legend when the wine they made gained international recognition and suddenly, the Priorat was famous. There are supporting characters, like the locals who had survived the hard times and happily returned to their land to cultivate their heritage once again. There is a dynamic setting: costers (steep slopes), llicorella (shimmering schist soils) and incredible biodiversity undisturbed by civilization. There is a romantic interest: intense, passionate, committed love for the land. There is heartbreak when the people had to leave their land to find work in the cities. And there is triumph when they were able to return.

Ethos Priorat began when I tasted a wine from the Priorat at the Telluride Wine Festival in Colorado in 2003. Never before had a wine made me see the land it came from so vividly. For many years I had had an idea to design a coffee-table book about the culture of wine. I decided that if it were to happen, I had to go somewhere to explore the potential of the idea. The Priorat was the obvious choice. Thus began seasonal visits to get to know the vines and the vintners of each of the villages. At some point destiny took control, making me buy a house and move there.

A winemaker in the Priorat told me I was “bringing the sensitive to the cognitive,” which sounded right because from the beginning, unable to speak Catalan or Spanish, the only thing I could understand was what I sensed. The messages were powerful, from history to viticulture to restoration of pride and so much more. From the deep roots embedded in llicorella through the old, scraggly vines and into the grapes, life — past, present and future — forms the soul of these wines.

Ethos Priorat is dedicated to the people of the Priorat — their love of the land, the valor they bring to the work it requires and the way they communicate from their hearts into mine. Every region has its own story. My goal is to give form to how I sense life through the use of good design, expressive photography and informative content and to reveal a deeper, more individual way to know wine.

Hugh Johnson wrote, “To me [wine's] fascination is that so many other subjects lie within its boundaries. Without geography and topography it is incomprehensible; without history it is colorless; without travel it remains unreal. It embraces botany, chemistry, agriculture, carpentry, economics and any number of sciences whose names I do not even know.” Joseph Campbell said, “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” I hope Ethos Priorat will prove both are true.

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