‘We are lucky that the wine industry is leaning towards our direction’The Penedès winery which ditched Cava production in favour of still wines from rare grape varieties is now venturing into wine tourism.
Based on this beautifully renovated 1902-built villa, the project offers a wine bar, restaurant and event venue. A boutique hotel is being built nearby and is scheduled to open early next year.
The villa and hotel are close to MontRubí’s winery and are surrounded by its 40ha of vineyards, which contain indigenous grape varieties such as Sumoll, Xarel·lo Vermell, Subirat Parent and Malvasia de Sitges.
The family-run MontRubí is located in the Alt Penedès village of L’Avellà, which didn’t have a bar or restaurant – until now. The wine bar had a soft opening in September, before shutting again in October when Spain reintroduced strict Covid-19 restrictions.
“We didn’t open fully,” MontRubí’s sales manager, Chiara Sorgente, tells me. “We decided only to show the wine bar which has a beautiful outdoor lounge overlooking the vineyards and our brand new swimming pool. The food offered were tapas made with proximity products.
“We will be opening the restaurant (on the first floor) as soon as… well, as soon as we have more information about the situation. The top floor of the villa is also a beautiful venue for private events.
“MontRubí villa is a place where everyone can discover our wines while enjoying a relaxing time surrounded by a beautiful landscape.”
The move into wine tourism is new for the family.
Managing director Alejo Peris tells Canopy: “We didn’t really explore the hospitality industry before the acquisition of the villa, therefore only in the past few years we decided to open our doors to the public and share our history with our wine lovers. Before that, visits were exclusively for partners like importers, restaurants' team members and exceptionally for wine lovers.
“We purchased the villa in 2018 from a family related to my grandmother. I used to actually play in that house and garden when I was very little, but then, unfortunately, the owners had to leave and it has been empty since. In a way, now, it’s like it is finally back to life and always in the same family. Our estate is in a beautiful spot of Penedès, at 530m high and in a microclimate, but not many people know how wonderful it is. I am proud of the work we are doing with our wines and also of our territory. Bringing back to life the soil, extinct grape varieties, a modernist villa... is a great challenge and I want to share all these beauties with anyone that can appreciate them. I am dreaming that the DO Penedès and MontRubí will shine together in the future years.”
'I am dreaming that the DO Penedès and MontRubí will shine together in the future years'
The business has also renovated the remains of a hermitage of Sant Andreu de L’Avellà, from the 11th century. “It is nothing too spectacular,” Alejo says, “but it is still a bit of history of the land. It is 10 minutes walking from the villa, on the other side of the road of our Sumoll vineyards.”
The new wine tourism offer gives the family business a platform to showcase its vegan and organic wines – and its unusual grape varieties.
Last year they planted Xarel·lo Vermell, which they hope to harvest for the first time in 2022. This year they planted Malvasia de Sitges (2023). Meanwhile, they are reproducing Subirat Parent vines, “as we don’t have enough volume to start with a whole vineyard yet, so this is still a work in progress,” Chiara explains.
MontRubí has also been stepping up production of its main varieties, Xarel·lo, Garnacha, Sumoll and Cariñena.
Alejo (above) says: “I believe that ‘our grapes don’t lie’, which means this is what has always been growing in our land and what the nature allows. We work in the vineyards and winery embracing an organic philosophy so that every vintage is reflected in our wines: cold, hot, dry, rain… everything is there! We are lucky also that the wine industry is leaning towards our direction. Wine lovers are more and more concerned about the environment and also about what they are drinking. Our wines are very fresh, focused on the purity of the fruit and often with moderate levels of alcohol considering the hot climate in our area. Apart from the organic certification, we have also certified all our wines as vegan.
“My family has been in Penèdes for a very long time. Actually, my dad has been breeding purebred Spanish horses in our estate for more than 40 years and, funnily enough, each horse’s name is actually related to the wine world! I had the opportunity of discovering everything about our territory while riding them. This is one of the most beautiful memories I have from my childhood in MontRubí. My grandmother transmitted this passion to my father who passed it to me. When you love and appreciate something, I believe you wish other people could feel the same. You would like to see it shining and, at the same time, also feel that you are doing something useful for future generations. Recovering a land I love and its jewels, it is very rewarding.”
‘Recovering a land I love and its jewels… is very rewarding’Learn more about MontRubí’s Sumoll project here: The taming of a tricky grape