The landscape has become a monochromatic palette of gray and beige, as if even the colors of life are sleeping. A beam of light finds its way through the clouds as a reminder that the heavens are keeping watch over the Priorat. In the Priorat, winter is considered a gift. People need time to rest and gather energy for the next year, just as the plants do. The days are short. The sun is low. The air is cold. This is the perfect time to slow down, reflect, recharge and restore. There is no urgency to the work.
The vines stand like proud soldiers who have nothing to fear. They have faithfully stood here for many years. It is a kind of love story. The vines are naked, the scars from every cut revealing memories of vintages past, inspiring ideas for those to come. The time has come to make the poda — to prune and renew the relationship with each vine. Outside with nature, surrounded by family, the vines are so familiar you know them by heart — there is no more tranquil time than this. Each sound has a sense of solitude to it. Essence to essence, man and nature are one.
The smell of hot coffee made over an open fire mingles with the frosty winter air. Nature is sleeping and there is peace in the surrender.
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.