There is a heaviness to the hours as the light fades and the days grow shorter. The hustle and bustle of the harvest is over, but, like a figment of a romantic imagination, it is easy to conjure up the men and women who worked these parcels, fleeting silhouettes amid the silence, the echoes of their effort.
With no one around to see, Mas La Plana sinks into slumber. Dormancy is essential to its survival. As though on autopilot, certain physiological functions and processes are activated, putting others on pause. Nature's very own engineering, the “warrior's rest.”
When we look out at Mas La Plana, we see a garden of gardens amid the Penedès landscape. An orderly explosion of green hillocks comprises a tapestry of parcels that cradle the vines, each one expressing a moment frozen in time.
Mas La Plana (Pacs del Penedès), a Familia Torres property, at dusk
After the harvest brings the grapevine's life cycle to its culmination, the vines need a well-deserved rest: winter dormancy. The slumber protects them from the cold and other inclement weather that is common this time of year. All activity in the leaves ceases; they turn shades of ochre, giving the vineyards their autumnal hue, before falling to the ground.
The stakes are high. Early fall frost can lead to an insufficient accumulation of nutrient reserves, which could bring about a significant decrease in the vine's fruit production in the years to come.
The vines' biological functions may have slowed to a minimum to survive the winter, but the winegrower must continuously monitor each parcel and tend to its every seasonal need.
Mas La Plana (DO Penedès) in winter, the pruning season
Dormant pruning decides the vine's productivity and balance early on. It consists in cutting away all the unnecessary vegetative growth from the canes, leaving only the nodes needed to produce new shoots in the spring. If pruning is delayed, all other stages will be too.
This is the time to collect cuttings if necessary. The best canes are taken to the nursery where they undergo a masal selection (with the aim of using the best specimens to optimize the variety).
The seeding of new cover crops or the encouragement of spontaneous plant cover brings new life to the dormant vineyard rows. Oats, legumes, clover, or grass help maintain biodiversity, as well as improving the soil's nutrient absorption.
Leaves and soil, activity and repose—these are the elements that make up the ochre and brown-tinged panorama in which Mas La Plana slumbers, alive and breathing.
We need and respect each other; a tacit agreement between nature and humanity to achieve a mutually beneficial balance. Ultimately, what fills our glass is much more than wine—it is the result of the knowledge and experience, patience and effort, constant reinvention and minimum impact that earlier generations developed over time. It is about culture and legacy, about life.