Friendships can take you to unexpected places, or maybe to places you always longed to be. My grandfather was a winegrower in the Empordà and I carry with me a few happy memories of helping out in the grape harvest, and of the huge lunch my grandmother served for all the pickers (mostly students from Barcelona) and of lots of laughter coming from the long table. I also remember I didn’t enjoy the actual grape picking very much!
But when I was still very young my grandfather was offered European Union funding in exchange for ripping out the vines and, as all his children had chosen other professions and he wanted to retire, he accepted. Old Grenache and Carignan vines were removed and used in the fireplace for many years after.
Happy coincidences meant that Mireia Oliver, enologist at her family’s Mallorcan cellar, Can Majoral, ended up staying with me in England, last spring, while learning English. And I learnt a lot about Mallorcan food (and all the ways in which you can use sobrassada, more of which later!) and about Mallorcan wines. Found out about wonderfully named grape varieties such as Callet, Gorgollassa, Giró Blanc and it was fantastic to taste her wines with Clive Barlow, the Master of Wine from Press Wine Services.
And I became very intrigued about her family’s Cellar, Can Majoral, a pioneer of Mallorcan organic farming, and of caring for autochthonous Mallorcan grapes. Mireia and her cousin have studied enology in Catalonia and brought new wine making techniques to make the most of their characterful vines and grapes. And, as a family rooted in their community, they manage to involve hundreds of people in their wine making. Every year, on a full moon night if possible, nearly 200 people descend to Can Majoral for a night of grape harvesting, food and dancing.
This is where I am heading today. Sketchy childhood memories of the grape harvest will combine with a fresh new set of memories that technology will allow me to preserve and share.
And it will be a privilege to share this with Ruth Troyano, the writer of my favourite blog about Catalan winemakers Vi-Moments-Persones (in Catalan).