Interview with Toni de la Rosa, co-owner and director of Torelló Viticultors
A fabulous host, Toni de la Rosa i Torelló knows how to combine work with pleasure better than anyone. This was our experience when he welcomed us into the wonderful estate that has been owned by the Torelló family since 1395 in Gelida (Barcelona). This expert communicator, who enthusiastically shares the wonders of the region and is one of the founders of the Corpinnat collective brand, has demonstrated to us the virtues of a surname that, 23 generations later, is still a leading name in wines and sparkling wines from the Penedès region (Catalonia). It’s a guaranteed party with Torelló!
- Coming from a family who have been making wines for more than 6 centuries, wine is in your blood. Could you tell us what your first memory with wine was?
I always remember the smell of the grape harvest, of the must fermenting, and of the wine. During the harvest, I always had to move to a different room because there was a trap door on the floor that led to the cellar, and the carbon dioxide from the fermentation process would rise up through that.
- People like your grandfather Francisco Torelló, the founder of the winery in 1951, or your mother Ernestina Torelló, the current president, are essential figures in the history of Torelló Viticultors. Which family member has most influenced the way you work?
I have learned from all of them, perseverance, my capacity for work and love for the land and its buildings from my grandfather and mother, commercial talent and self-confidence from my brother Paco, because what I lack, he has more than enough of.
- Your CV says you have a law degree. When you started your studies, were you not certain that you would dedicate your life to the family business or did you just think that law would be useful for you in world of wine?
There are lots of lawyers in my family, I always liked law and it is a skill that is never wasted in a business. I was never asked if I wanted to dedicate myself to the world of wine. It must be in our genes after so many generations!
- You are now the company’s top marketing manager, specifically in charge of promotion and communication, as well as retail sales and exports. Are you someone who thinks it is more difficult to sell a good wine than to make it?
There are very good wines that are hard to sell and mediocre wines that sell really well; this means that promotion, communication and marketing campaigns do their job and help to sell.
- With an area of 135 hectares, 80 of which are planted with 11 different grape varieties and 439 centenary-old olive trees, you are one of the few wineries that can boast of making all your wines and sparkling wines with your own grapes. In recent times, have you let go of or added any new varieties? How does climate change affect the estate?
Throughout our history we have made our wines and sparkling wines from the vines on our estate with the occasional purchase of grapes, but ours are estate wines. Lately we have been re-grafting vines with traditional varieties from our area for sparkling wine and, yes, we are feeling the effects of climate change. I remember in my childhood, more than 40 years ago, we would start the grape harvest in the second week of September, now, we start it in mid-August, something must be happening...
- Your wine collection is large, but of all the winery’s wines, which do you think best represents the house’s philosophy? Why?
It’s got to be the Torelló Tradicional Brut Nature. Traditional because it’s the traditional Torelló, Traditional because it’s made with the 3 native varieties Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada, and Traditional because it’s the one we have always drunk in the family. It ages for more than 5 years in the bottle and is very dry.
- One of the live questions for many wineries is wine tourism. You have recently started doing this by setting up “La Barbequiú Bubbles & Food”, a new outdoor gastronomic space that invites people to enjoy wine in the best environment. Can you tell us about this project and who is it aimed at?
There is an outdoor terrace between vineyards in front of our Can Martí family farmhouse. This is a place where, after a visit to the aging cellars, you can enjoy a gourmet barbecue, our wines and corpinnats, and good music. An idea and a space born out of the pandemic aimed at anyone who likes to eat and drink well near Barcelona.
- You have also been organising dinners during the months of June and July as part of the Corpinnat Gastronomic Festival. For these events, chefs from well-known restaurants come to the family farmhouse to prepare their best cuisine with menus paired with your wines and sparkling wines. Who are you hoping to invite for the 2022 event? Any surprises you want to share? In your opinion, what is the highlight of the Festival?
This Festival brings many visitors to our area and is also the result of the pandemic. This year we organised 8 dinners of the 45 that make up the Festival, with restaurants from different parts of Catalonia. We have invited the restaurants Citrus del Tancat (Alcanar), Fishhh (Barcelona), Quatre Molins (Cornudella de Montsant), Santa Fe (Vallgorguina), Arturo (Barcelona), Nomo (Barcelona), Rincón de Pepe (Sitges) and Restaurante Sergi de Meià (Barcelona).
- From president of the Cofradía del Cava (Cava Guild) to leaving the D.O. Cava and becoming one of the founding members of the Corpinnat collective brand. What does Corpinnat have that cava doesn’t?
I was proud to champion Cava during my time as President of the Cofradía. A lot has happened in Cava in recent years. At the time, they didn’t want or didn’t know how to hold onto a group of very prestigious brands that are now part of Corpinnat, nor did they introduce the regulatory changes that, in my opinion, are necessary. In any case, and in my opinion, Corpinnat pursues excellence in the world of sparkling wine and demonstrates that in the Penedès it is possible to produce top quality wines and compete with the best. These are sparkling wines from organic grapes harvested by hand, vinified entirely on the property, aged for a minimum of 18 months, from a small and compact territory of the Penedès.
- In addition to its commitment to the production process and quality, Corpinnat is involved in the promotion of sparkling wine culture. A culture that, although until recently was associated with celebrations, more and more consumers are now ordering sparkling wine by the glass as an aperitif, mid-afternoon drink or to pair with dishes. Bearing in mind that one of its strongest competitors is beer, how do you think sparkling wine can become the king of drinks?
Little by little the idea is growing that a corpinnat is just another wine, filled with bubbles, but just another wine. By which I mean that it is the most versatile wine there is, it works well at any time and goes with almost any type of food, it is the drink of the future! It is true that we have work to do with young people, we will have to work out how to explain that bubbles are cool, that they bring people together, that they don’t have too high an alcoholic content, that you should always eat while drinking, that they are fun and go well with everything... and that they are less fattening than other drinks.
- 23 generations have proudly carried the Torelló name. Is there a 24th generation on the way? If so, do you think your children will be more prepared than you? What can they offer that previous generations couldn’t? And, conversely, what challenges are they going to have to deal with?
The 24th generation is already here, my brother has three children and I have three. We hope some of them will join the winery. Undoubtedly, each generation is more technically prepared than the previous one and they have or will have more means. As soon as they join in, they will bring a freshness and new ways of doing things, for sure. They will also have to overcome new problems - who knew a virus could do so much damage?
- We know that you are passionate about your work and also, that you know better than anyone how to make every event a party. But when you finally get home, what do you like to spend your free time doing? Are there any hobbies that fill you body and soul?
I like work and family, as well as friends and parties. In the summer I swim in the Mediterranean and in the winter I ski. And I’m always listening to music.
- Finally, with so many wine fairs, you must have recently discovered a wine that has won you over. Can you tell us what it is?
At the most recent fairs I have rediscovered wines from friends at Muga, Valserrano, Pago de los Capellanes, Vizcarra, Señorans, Binigrau, and their new vintages and wines. I have also had time to taste the sparkling wines from my Corpinnat colleagues in more depth, we have shared stands with them at many fairs and tastings.