Nature’s sleepy stillness is awakened by the warmth of the sun. The air is still damp, but now it glistens. Old, craggy vine wood magically pushes out tiny buds, leaves unfurling, reaching for the light, glowing with energy awakened from within. The same energy rouses the vines and all the plant kingdom, and stimulates people into activity too.
While asleep, the vines were pruned. Now that the sun has warmed the earth, they awaken and cry, “Els ceps ploren.” The places where they were pruned look like the iris of an eye with a sleepy tear drop emerging. The direction of growth for the new vintage has been designated, but the vines are like children during recess. The youthful shoots fly out of the vine, full of energy, in every possible direction. Green pruning is like the whistle that brings the playground back into order. Pulling off leaves allows air to flow and the vines to concentrate more energy on producing flavorful fruit. This is also the time for planting new vines — so new they look embryonic.
Everyone and everything happily greets the sun. Almond trees are sending their pink and white blooms like fine lace across the landscape. Birds are chirping. Baby leaves are glowing chartreuse as if lit from within as the sun casts its silvery glow across the llicorella. The energy of life returns. It must be spring.
In the Priorat, the vines and the people move through time as if they were one. They respond to the sun and its seasonal rhythms with an unconscious awareness of when to rest and when to be fruitful. They are dependent on one another. Nature takes care of man so man can take care of nature — the perfect circle for ongoing life. This kind of synchronized rhythm could be explained by the fact that man is ultimately an integral part of nature, but in the Priorat this relationship is also a matter of heritage.
This is what makes generations’ cultivating the same land so crucial to a good wine. The more experiences that growers have with the land, the better prepared they are for dealing with the unpredictable that each vintage delivers. Knowing the trends, being familiar with each vine and recognizing signs inform intuitive viticulture. These experiences are recorded in memories that have become part of a farmer’s DNA. Stories are shared over a game of dominoes; children and grandchildren appear to be playing, but they are also listening as if to a collection of Aesop’s Fables, each with a lesson for life.
The neutral gray of hibernating winter gives way to the electric glow of spring. This is the signal for the people to wake up, put on sunglasses and get to work. The vines have rested and so have they. It is nice to be outside again, in motion, clinging to the sides of their beloved schisty slopes. They have no will to resist the telluric impulses. Walking amongst their ancestors, breathing the air of new life, they greet the new vintage with vigor for another year. Hard work, challenges and great reward await in this blessed life.
Ethos Priorat is vividly panoramic. It is best viewed in landscape format to fully enjoy the experience.