Walking through Finca Parera, we stop by a small garden, which looks more like a jumble of weeds. Rubén Parera bends down and plucks out a stalk of celery, a handful of parsley, a few blades of swiss chard, and some comely escarole. Each time he yanks out a handful, he holds it up like a prize winner at a state fair and grins.
At Finca Parera, an organic and biodynamic winery in the Alt Penedès, they do much more than just make wine. With three generations of farmers in the family, it’s not surprising to see more than just vines being cultivated.
Some of his neighbors don’t understand his “dirty” farming techniques.
Rubén works the land with his father and two other partners. Under his father’s hand, the land was once used to farm cherries and plums, but Rubén’s vision was to turn it into a vineyard. Today, some of the cherries remain alongside almond and olive trees –essential to biodynamic, polyculture agriculture– but most of the landscape is laced with vines. From these they produce a lineup of nine sparkling and still minimal-intervention wines.
Rubén pops open a metal door in the ground and reveals a bunker of cloudy, ancestral whites. He holds one up to the sun and admires the yeast deposits. It’s made of Xarel·lo, one of several local grapes they grow. When they used to sell their grapes to large producers like Torres, they cultivated many international varietals. Now they’re finding their roots –shifting production to native varietals, foregoing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for Monastrell, Sumoll, and other locals that best express the terroir of the region.
As we walk along rows, Rubén points out a small patch of tufted greens, different from the usual ground cover. They’re habas, he tells us –fava beans– planted to bring nitrogen to the soil. Most of them end up in the menus of Barcelona restaurants Dos Palillos and Dos Pebrots. Although some of his neighbors don’t understand his “dirty” farming techniques, Ruben’s proud of his wild ground cover, patting it lovingly before heading off to check on his new bees. A winemaker’s curiosity can never be satisfied, he says.
What to try: Clar (€7.50) is a crisp, aromatic unaged white made from Xarello, Chardonnay, and Gewurtraminer filled with fruit and a hint of flowers. The Fins Als Kullons (€15) is a blend of Xarel·lo, Garnatxa Blanca, Sumoll. It’s a light, juicy red with the soul of a white, perfect for summer drinking.