Here you can read an interview with the owner of Cal Serafí, the iconic wine-shop in the old part of the historic center of Torredembarra. She is Dolors Torné, who immediately answered us by e-mail and kindly accepted to do the interview. We met at 4 p.m. when the wine-shop is usually closed and she introduced us to two more persons from her family, who also collaborated in this interview since they are also linked to the business. This is a traditional family business that is definitely worth visiting once you are in Torredembarra. The shop is indeed very nice, with a classic touch, an updated version of those of a lifetime to make it boutique looking like. Lovely.
Here you can read the original interview in Catalan.
BTO – Could you introduce the wine-shop, its history and its location in Torredembarra?
Dolors – Yes, we are located in the old town of Torredembarra. We are in the very, very historic center. We have been open as a wine-shop for over 50 years. You can see that we have the barrels here, where the wine is fermented. This place before, many years ago, was the cellar of the house, meaning that here the family had vineyards to make their own wine. Well, that, which was the home cellar, was gradually transformed, especially in the 60s when the whole tourism boom began. Then they decided that they would sell the wines but not only theirs, also those from other wineries. Little by little, all this was evolving and there were more and more wineries, more wine-shops, and more references.
Twenty-eight years ago we made a major overhaul. The structure is currently the same as it was then because this is the original structure of the house and we did not want to touch anything. But hey, we put shelves and expanded with lots of varieties of denominations of origin for wines and cavas.
BTO – And the business has gone well…
Dolors – We had great success, to be honest, until the breakdown because of Covid-19. We have lots of French, English, German customers… they love our shop! Because this is a different store from those you normally see in big cities. Those wine-shops are beautiful too, but they are much more modern and ours is much more authentic. About ten or twelve years ago, my sister joined me because I needed staff and she was out of a job. Moreover, we did very well, because we have always had a great relationship. My niece and her husband have also helped us to set up social networks like Instagram, Facebook… And a wine club. We send wines every month to our subscribers. We have been updating thanks to them mainly because it is something that my sister and I miss and people like networks. The truth is that we are very happy, but well since the issue of lockdowns, the business has gone down exponentially.
One thing that went very well for us was the face-to-face tastings. We used to bring many producers from different wineries. We gathered 20 or 25 people and explained all the processes of the wine, which is very interesting. People had a great time and gave us a lot of appreciation for the wine-shop. Unfortunately, currently, we can’t do that indoors, so we’ll do it outside. We are reinventing ourselves.
BTO – How has Covid-19 affected you?
Dolors – During the week the business is not really profitable and on weekends either. For us, since we are on the coast it matters that people come from far away, foreigners included, of course. Torredembarra has made a brutal change in the direction of focusing everything on tourism. That makes sense with the beaches we have, so prestigious. For me, it’s good that I can speak English and French and also German, that I can address people and make them feel good when they’re looking for a wine or whatever. We were very successful on that. And now, we’re lucky just because this is a family business. If my sister and I don’t get money out of the business… we’ll handle it. However, there are people who have to pay rents, which are not cheap here behind in the pedestrian street, and we do not know what they will be able to endure. They let us do an ERTE (temporarily cease of job contracts) but then we had to re-hire our workers for at least six months, whether your business was going well or not. This situation for the people of restaurants and hotels is being very hard.
BTO – Do you see any plans to revive the economy of the affected sectors by the administrations?
Dolors – The local government does not have much decision-making power in this field. Not to be able to move between municipalities or counties is very limiting. It is a big handicap; the people of Barcelona can’t come to their summer houses either. Yes, they did a campaign at Christmas in favour of local businesses but here we have not enough costumers to run a business only with local clients.
BTO – So foreigners are an important part of your business.
Dolors – Very important! Because there are a lot of summer houses here in Torredembarra. An urbanization called Clarasol, and the whole part that leads to La Pobla de Montornès, it is full with German owners and tenants. It’s like a small German colony. The French also come a lot, although they are actually more into camping tourism. The people in the campsites bring customers and the people in the hotels too. However, especially the tourists of the campsites are important customers for us as they do the day to day at the campsite, make lunches and want wines.
Anyhow, we can still be happy. This Christmas many Germans have not been able to come. Therefore, we have been sending wines and caves to their places of origin, also to France, and to Zaragoza and Madrid. Now I have a package ready to send vermouth to Zaragoza. They like what we have and then they ask us for more.
BTO – And the products you have are more about proximity or rather quality…
Dolors – I could tell you that 85 percent of products are from here. When I say from here I mean Catalans. When you go to a place you want to taste the goods of the place. Of course, we also have Riojas and everything you could expect. We can offer other wine origins but if they were not quality products logically, I would not have them. Nevertheless, here, there are some qualities with very good prices. We are more dedicated to this, to encouraging the great elaborations that we have nearby. Basically, Montsant, Terra Alta, with good percentages of Grenache. Now there is room for Syrah and others as well. The elaborations are made not as rustic as before, when you felt a bit of laziness around Priorats in being a little strong. Then, of course, the whole issue of caves, which are all from here, basically from Penedès, but also in Tarragona, quality cava is now being made. And also, since such good oenologists have come out of the Faculty of Oenology of Tarragona, they have been making good wines and very good caves too. Our products are well made with a base of raw material which has been always very good because the soils are very good for grapes.
BTO – About Torredembarra, how do you value the evolution of the municipality and this brutal change since the 60’s?
Dolors – Torredembarra, like other coastal areas, was about vineyards and carob trees. Everything that was peasantry has logically become bricks and walls. Apartments and flats. They fill up in the summer and we can have almost 70,000 inhabitants here. What about that? Whether you like it or not, for a lot of people who don’t live out of shops or tourism that means hassels, night parties and stuff. But of course this gives a lot of life and a lot of jobs to the people here. We can’t fight that. There were four of us working here in the summer. It must also be said that with everything that has been speculated on the coast, here in Torredembarra, it has been done in a way that is still quite controlled.
BTO – Have there been wrong behaviours on that?
Dolors -Yes! They have done some wrong things too. For instance, here nearby they have made 26 apartments out of a single rural house named Cal Serafí. You can already imagine what these apartments are like. It’s the only thing I find that has been done wrong, to give permits here in the center to do these things. In other municipalities, they have preserved the old quarters.
BTO – And lastly, if you could recommend something to do or see to visitors, what would you recommend?
Dolors – The old town is fine, but it is too small for sightseeing. The beach and its promenade is what I would definitely stand out above the rest.
Here you can read our complete review about the town of Torredembarra.