"Your mind and spirit should travel to the place of origin."
Pepe Raventós has embellished the canvas with his own unique set of colors. Born to the vine and enamored of the bosky hills and sprawling vineyards of Catalan wine country, Raventós spent his childhood picking grapes where 21 generations of Pepe Raventós’ family have lived, dating back to the 15th century. Referring to the wine region as the ‘New Catalunya’, Raventós—whose love of nature, sustainable agriculture and natural vinification is perhaps unparalleled in the world—searched for several years before he found his dream property between the towns of Sant Jaume dels Domenys and Pla de Manlleu: The thousand acre woodland and farm of Can Sumoi. The vineyard had fallen on hard times, and Josep Mateu, a former masover (farmhand) who was born at Can Sumoi in 1936, was delighted that someone was willing to ‘recover the land’. Under the stewardship of Raventós and his childhood friend Francesc Escala, Mateu maintains that he can, once again, “see the sun shine through open door, watch the vines being pruned and cars going up and down the narrow path between the olive trees.”
At two thousand feet above sea level (in the Serra de l’Home range) Can Sumoi is the highest estate in the Penedès; Mallorca and the Ebro Delta are visible from the rooftop of the winery’s 350-year-old farmhouse. Below, 50 acres of vineyards sprawl across limestone-rich soil between stands of oak and white pine, which to the ecology-driven Raventós, share equal importance with the vines. “Forests,” he says, “protect the biodiversity of the estate; they are the green lungs of the world.”
The wines of Can Sumoi are also green insofar as they are produced using Certified Organic methods; vineyards are tended with natural compost, free of pesticides and with minimal intervention; a herd of sheep and goats is allowed to graze semi-freely among the vines. Certain esoteric biodynamic techniques may sound strange to laymen (such as timing vineyard activity to the phases of the moon) but to Raventós, they make perfect sense: “When the moon is ascendant, plant fluids concentrate more towards the roots of plants, and that’s when you want to do the pruning—so you don’t damage the plant.”
It is a spiritual quest, he admits; the smells and flavors of Catalunya are unique and exist in his soul as surely as in his wine. “To express origin, you really need to bring a lot of life into your farm. The principle is simple: The more diversity on your property, the more richness there is, the more resistant and strong your vines will be. The fewer treatments they need, the more authentic the wine will be. I left the idea of making perfect wine a long time ago. I think my duty is to make the most authentic wine possible.”
Learn more about Can Sumoi here.