Life has taken Manolo del Águila, a Porrera native, in different directions, to different places and endeavors, which all converged in his alma mater: the lands and surroundings of Mas de la Rosa, the vineyard he once owned and still oversees as a winegrower.
It hasn't been an easy journey. Manolo is a resilient man, reliable and trustworthy in his work, shaped by the vicissitudes of life and a reality that demanded industriousness. When he talks about these life lessons, he does so with stunning sincerity:
“When I was born, my parents had hazelnut groves, and I remember spending many weekends of my childhood helping my mother and brothers in the field, because my father died when I was just six years old.”
Manolo del Águila with a mule-drawn plow at Mas de la Rosa (a Familia Torres property) in Porrera (DOQ Priorat)
Manolo had to leave school at 14 and take on a minimum wage job to help support his family.
After completing his military service at age 19, he tried his luck as a surveyor's assistant, working on the Porrera road for several months. This was followed by a stint in the hospitality sector, then a paper factory, and later, construction. But one thing never changed: between jobs, he always worked the land.
Manolo went on to work in wineries and vineyards, and one day, Mas de la Rosa entered his life the way all great loves do.
Summer sunset at Mas de la Rosa (Porrera, DOQ Priorat), a Familia Torres property
“I fell in love with Mas de la Rosa while picking almonds on a piece of land belonging to my wife's grandfather, which was just across the way. Every day I spent a good long while looking at Mas de la Rosa; the more I looked, the more I liked it, and I dreamed of one day working in that vineyard. I decided to buy it when the previous owner told me that he wouldn't be able to do the work after 1987, because of his health. Asking him if he would sell was easy, and luckily we came to an agreement almost immediately.”
Manolo's vision and intuition soon revealed the potential of Mas de la Rosa. Not only was it a good place to grow almonds, but its vines would produce a bold and unique wine. “One of the things I most appreciate about Mas de la Rosa is that it faces the rising sun—this means it's not too cold in the winter—and receives a sea breeze we call garbinada in Priorat, which brings down the heat on summer afternoons.”
Miguel Torres Maczassek (5th generation) and Manolo del Águila (winegrower) check on the Mas de la Rosa vines during pruning
Manolo's lack of winegrowing experience only fueled his determination. He knew what he wanted. Largely self-taught, but advised by winegrowers in Porrera, Manolo figured out the secrets of working this vineyard: how to prune, how to deal with threats to the vines' health, how to ensure a balanced harvest.
“I asked some of the winegrowers in Porrera to show me how to prune and how to manage the canopy, something that was completely new to me, and in books, I learned about parasites and pests.”
This was a long time ago, and since then Manolo del Águila has acquired undeniable experience, knowledge, and skill. A truly self-made man. We're proud to have him on board.