Interview with Vicenç Ferré, president of the wine DO Tarragona

We think that wine has a deep influence on the culture and identity of Tarragona Region. Therefore, we wanted to speak with someone relevant to represent the Denomination of Origin Tarragona. We wrote them directly, to an e-mail address found on the Internet and they offered the phone number of the President of DO Tarragona. Vicenç Ferré, the president, quickly replied and accepting gently our offer.

Vicenç Ferré is a senior technician in enology and viticulture with experience in laboratory, vineyards, production, trade, and marketing business management. Moreover, and especially, he is the co-owner and founder of the Celler Mas Vicenç, a family cellar located in Cabra del Camp, which in recent years has made a strong commitment to wine tourism. He is 37 years old and energetic enough, but overall he has the skills and the correct education to set up the strategy and to manage an important project for the DO. Fortunately, he proposed to do the interview in the cellar so we could enjoy while making this interview a very personal visit.  

BTO – Let’s start with something easy! Can you introduce Mas Vicenç, please?

Vicenç – Mas Vicenç is located in Cabra del Camp. We are 450 meters above sea level in the north part of Denomination of Origin Tarragona. Here, the mountains are code and this is a special climate, very dry during summer but light cold in winter. We have a Mediterranean climate.

Can I take a picture? (He jumps to get a huge picture of his family and continues to explain showing the picture). I am the fifth generation. My great grandfather bought the house in 1953 when my father was two years old. This has been always dedicated to agriculture. I started to produce wine when I was 21 years old after my studies in France and Priorat. Certainly, I wanted to produce my own wine and develop my own business. I started with two wines and after 15 years we are producing 60.000 bottles and we work all the family together on it. It is a family business, we work all together.

BTO – Can you explain the services you offer to the visitors in your cellar?

Vicenç – In Mas Vicenç, we offer three kinds of visits.

  • The first is the wine tasting. They come and they can taste the basic wines in the tasting room. That costs 6 euros. They can taste even exclusive wines on another kind of tastings they can demand.
  • The second kind of visit is the guided tour in the cellar with five wines tasting included. You can just taste the wine in the place where it is produced. You do the visit with the wine glass in your hand!
  • The third, we call “walk and wine”. You can do it every day, at 10 a.m. or at 11 a.m. depending on if you choose the long path (4,5 km) or the short one (1,5 km). The nice point here is that you can find along the way surprise tastings in the middle of nature to match excellent wines with awesome views. Afterward, you can even combine with the guided tour in the cellar that starts at noon.

BTO – You are the President of the DO Tarragona. Can you describe the DO and explain how it works?

Vicenç – The main job of a Denomination of Origin consists in certify the quality of a wine. We provide a label to prove that the lab parameters and the tasting parameters are into the quality standards of our DO. All DO are a guarantee that the climate, the soil, and the taste of the wine are similar for the same origin. They also work on the promotion of the wines of the region.

BTO – What kind of wine are you producing as a DO Tarragona?

Vicenç – 50% are white wines. We are traditionally big producers of Mediterranean white wines. We speak about wines with low alcoholic strength, meaning from 11 to 12%. The main grape type of this whites is Macabeu, which covers 70% of the production. We have an increased production of rosé, which is the 20% of the total production and the remaining 30 percent is red wine.

We should not forget the sweet and the stale! The sweet wine for the mess is the icon of this DO. This is one of the oldest DO in Spain. The DO Tarragona was created in 1940 to preserve sweet and stale wine, which was exported to the Vatican. I recommend visiting De Muller Cellar for that topic, and the “Vinícola” of Nulles because of its beauty.

BTO – What can offer a DO to the tourism sector?

Vicenç- Currently now, we are creating The Wine Route of the DO Tarragona. 22 cellars participate in that and we will offer together with a set of activities of wine tourism. We will offer from kayaking on the Ebro River and ending up on a wine tasting to excursions on old carriages with breakfast at the vineyards, dinners in the old “Wine Cathedral”, “walk and wine” here in nature…

BTO – Do we have in Tarragona many foreign tourists interested in wine tourism or they are rather locals?

Vicenç – DO Tarragona receives from 30.000 to 40.000 visits per year in the 22 cellars. Of those, 25% are foreigners that especially during summer, when they are on vacation enjoying the beach on Costa Daurada, they decide to spend a day visiting the wine cellars. The remaining 75% are locals.

BTO – Is there any bond between the DO Tarragona and the identity of the territory?

Vicenç – Certainly! All this starts 600 years before Christ. And the Romans imported and exported wine from Tarraco. The wine culture is very important in this territory and the logo of the DO Tarragona is a Roman amphora, which is a ceramic container used to transport wine in ancient times.

Of course, we are very attached to Roman history but also the period of the Cistercian order, when the monks based in the Tarragona region brought and introduced new methods of production. At that moment, Medieval times, it was an explosion of the wine culture. There were more vineyards than today, they drink much more wine.  

BTO – which is your bestseller wine?

Vicenç – In Mas Vicenç, we are specialists in muscatel, sweet wines like “Vi del vent” a sweet white wine or some dry ones like “El Terrat”, which is very aromatic and perfect for Mediterranean cuisine to match with paella, seafood, prawns…

BTO – We should ask about Coronavirus. It has been a huge struggle we guess…

Vicenç – Definitely, a huge struggle. In DO Tarragona part of our business is wine tourism and we were closed for 6 months. An important channel of distribution is the restaurants. Since restaurants were closed or with many restrictions we were not selling to them. An important percentage of our sales we do nearby to restaurants in this territory. The exportations beyond our main territory worked but even on this field, 50% of the demand was ruined. Today I received the data, overall we lost 40% of our sales during 2020 comparing with the previous years. This is a lot, mind that if you are selling 100% of your production you got a 30% of the benefits. With these numbers of 2020, you are going bankrupt. Many producers had to get into loans.

BTO – The last one. As a local, can you recommend a place or spot to visit for our readers?  

Vicenç – It is a good question! We have many kilometers of amazing coast and very impressive heritage. I would say the Roman heritage of Tarragona and the beaches around, but outside of the city. I would go also to the mountain ranges of Tarragona for cycling. They are not very popular but they are very nice!

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