The vineyards at Mas de Cabrera near Gandesa were originally established in the 20th century by the Aubanell family, loyal members of the Gandesa cooperative. Unfortunately due to illness, Jorge, known to everyone as Ganxi, could no longer look after the land and decided to sell it to the current owners in 2013, with further purchases from the family following a year later.
They are situated at an altitude of around 400m above sea level. The soils in Terra Alta are a mixture of chalk and clay, with a low content of organic material.
The Mediterranean climate of our area is what shapes the wines, leaving them strong but polished. There is also a continental influence, which lowers winter temperatures and raises them in summer and there is little annual rainfall. Terra Alta is also a very sunny region but one which lies at the mercy of two prevailing winds: the Cierzo blowing from the interior and the more humid Garbí coming from the Mediterranean.
Since we bought the vineyards we have gradually been implementing our philosophy, tempered by what we have learnt about the impact of climate, disease pressure, and the options for management.
We have always believed that vineyards need to be seen in the context of their broader environment, not as a monoculture. That means understanding how the vines are influenced by the nature that surrounds them. This is very much the basis of Steiner’s Biodynamic philosophy. However we do not subscribe to the more spiritual and prescriptive ideas that come with the holistic view of the vineyard enviroment.
Similarly we believe that we should manage the fertilisation and disease pressure using natural processes and controls where possible. For many years we felt that Organic Certification was not sufficient. For instance the permitted use of copper has been an issue for us.
Recently we have found an approach that we are comfortable with – Regenerative Viticulture.
This approach embraces the holistic view of Biodynamics, the sympathetic interventions of Organic culture and a greater concentration on managing the soil as the major point of interaction between the vine and its environment.
What does that mean in practice?
- minimal or no tilling in the vineyard
- cover crops to fertilise and protect the soil, conserve water and prevent runoff
- minimal treatments with organic controls
- working the vines by hand from pruning to picking
There is as yet no certification for Regenerative Viticulture – it needs to be matched to each individual situation. We are however subscribers to the Regenerative Viticulture Foundation and are currently in our final year of certification as an organic producer under CCPAE.