The great-grandfather of Pere Llopart Vilarós, Pere Massana i Casanelles, produced the first sparkling wine in the family farm in 1887. Today, Llopart has a 500-hectare estate, 95 of which are vineyards – all ecological certificated –producing 440,000 bottles of cava and 40,000 bottles of still wines each year. Its range consists of 9 sparkling wines, 3 wines and 1 grape juice, and is sold mostly on the Catalan market – 70% -.
We speak with Pere Llopart Vilarós, representative of the fourth generation of cava-makers of the family.
Llopart family has been making cava since the 19th century. I guess that some challenges and setbacks were found on this path…
Our family history has been linked to viticulture since the fourteenth century, and for more than 600 years we have been dedicated to the cultivation of the vineyard and the production of wines. The current estate, Can Llopart de Subirats, is also still located at its original site. We also have written records of 25 family generations dedicated to the cultivation of the vineyard.
My generation has had a much easier time surviving as winemakers compared to my father’s generation. My father’s generation suffered through the phylloxera plague, a Civil War and a economic recession during Franco’s dictatorship. My childhood was also difficult, especially after the loss of my mother, who died when I was 9 years old.
Being a winemaker has been my modus vivendi. It has been an inseparable part of my life and the one of my whole family. It would have been impossible to achieve what we have achieved without the collaboration of my wife, Jacinta Llopart. She has been a true engine of the project I started back in the 50s.
Did you always see yourself being a winemaker? Or could you imagine yourself doing something else?
I have helped the family with the vineyards growing and making wine since I was a teenager. I have always been very actively involved.
Wine has always been my passion, but my father wanted me to study Accountancy, so by the time I was 12, I was studying as a resident at the Valldemia School of the Marist Brothers in Mataró. But I was convinced that my future was to be a winemaker, and I always kept it in mind. At the age of 19, in 1948, I made the military service in Vilafranca del Penedés, a town 15km away from my hometown. Besides this, it gave me the opportunity to combine my obligatory military service with the studies of Viticulture and Oenology at the Enological School in Vilafranca. It was from 1948 to 1952.
When did you first discover your passion for wine?
I have always had a passion for wine but I remember that studying and knowing more thoroughly and technically the world of wine-growing and viticulture is where I really felt attracted and wanting to follow the tradition of the Llopart lineage.
Do you remember the first time you tried wine?
I remember that at home we drank white wine with meals almost every day, and sparkling on holidays. Since I was a young boy, I remember sipping wine from my parents’ glasses. Also, at that time, it was very common for children to eat bread cooked with wine and sugar. That was a very popular afternoon snack. Wines in my childhood were more full-bodied and a bit more alcoholic.
When did you start making wine by yourself?
I finished studying oenology in Vilafranca when I was 22 years old and by that time I had an interest in continuing the production of sparkling wine my grandfather had begun. The first cava I elaborated was in 1953, which would be the current Llopart Reserva Brut Nature.
Are your cavas like the ones your ancestors made? What did you want to change when you started making cava by yourself?
I wanted to reflect the fruit of our vineyards. Natural, without added sweetness, without makeup. I was a pioneer in the production of Brut Nature sparkling wines.
Oenology is an art, is a creative process and a vine is a living being. Each vintage is different and for this reason the winemaker’s job is to obtain a balanced wine, with its own style, … leading the vine from pruning to harvest. The wines we make today are connected to the wines my ancestors made by the fact that they all come from the same piece of land, the same soil, the grapes are affected by the same air, the same sun.
Do you think you have succeded?
I am proud to see that Llopart has become a reference and example on how to make quality sparkling wines. And that we have cemented our place in the history of quality sparkling wines through the conservation and extension of the family estate.
For me, the best success is the approval and congratulations from my costumers. It is also very important and it moves me to know that the legacy that has arrived to my days will be continued with the same passion by my family.
And after the good work come the awards…
Yes. In 2017 we received the “Creu de Sant Jordi”. We had been the first winery to ever obtain this recognition. We take it as recognition for our long experience in the world of vine-growing and for our commitment with organic agriculture and long-term aging crafted cava.
It was also an honor to receive the homage to my career path from the Cava Association (Confraria del Cava) last autumn.
And the 98 points obtained by the Llopart Ex·Vite; the first time a cava received such high scoring!
Tell us about your favorite Llopart cava
It is difficult to choose one. All the products are special for me. Llopart Leopardi and Llopart Ex·Vite, maybe are the two wines more significant for me.
Llopart Leopardi is homage to the first family ancestor (enllaç a origins), who lived in our country house in the XIV century: Bernardus Leopardi. And the Ex·Vite is the example of how elegantly our sparkling wines can age. The grapes for this wine come from one of the highest plots where 50 to 70 year-old vines grow with very limited vigor.
What does “good cava” mean to you? What it the most exciting about making them?
A good cava is that one that speaks about its terroir. I shall never tire of demanding more recognition to the vine growers, who, in essence, are the custodians of the landscape of the Penedès.
The most exciting part of it is being able to transform the fruit of our vineyards into something that people can enjoy, into something that is part of their best moments and memories.
Any personal motto?
“Ex Vite Vita”: life spurs from the grapevine. It is a motto that has been with my family for centuries and that represents the importance that it makes for us to take good care of the vines.
How do you see the future of winemaking in general and the future of Llopart in particular?
The history of Llopart counts now 25 generations of winemakers and its future is absolutely linked to the following ones. I am very proud to see that my two sons and three daughters are involved in the winery. In fact, I am glad to see that the following generation, my grandchildren, is very interested in wine, and feel part of this legacy. They are young, enthusiastic, highly trained, smart… they are the future of Llopart.
A book: History of Catalonia, by Borja de Riquer
A movie: Bohemian Rhapsody
A country to live in: Catalonia
A country to visit: France
A dish: I like sweets, Catalan custard, nougat…
A restaurant in Catalonia: the family restaurant of Can Gallau, in Cambrils; Miriam, in l’Escala; and el Mirador de les Caves, the restaurant I established along with my wife Jacinta in the family estate.
A Wine Appellation of Origin: Priorat
A Cava not from Llopart: Nowadays there are many different wineries doing a very good job and we can find cavas that are signs of high quality.
A wine: Fresh, light and aromatic wines
A passion, besides wine: to walk in the vineyards, the mountain and the forest. In summer, to take a stroll by the sea and to sail with my family