Here we are referring to wine in the broadest sense, encompassing activities that go beyond the winemaking process. Likewise, we are referring to cultural reality as anything that is based on viticulture and has taken hold in different areas and contexts of our social evolution as human beings.
Let's apply this idea to five examples that require less poetic depth and offer a closer look at the reality that surrounds us:
Shaping the land
The various tree crops that abound in the Mediterranean and their subsequent use have been of vital importance in delimiting the terrain, in creating paths, wells, and reservoirs; interconnected commerce routes, and endless vineyard landscapes of perfect rows that comprise their own rich ecosystem.
In a way, winegrowing makes humans co-adapt as they transform their surroundings and adapt them to their needs.
El Lloar (DOQ Priorat) terraces during budbreak (Familia Torres)
As a mental exercise, let's ponder the steep slopes of Priorat, where winegrowers had to carve out astonishing terraces to enable the otherwise impossible task of growing grapes.
Restoring our heritage
The weight of wine history over time has left its mark on the venerable cellars of ancient, timeworn monasteries, forgotten chapels amid green canopies, old shepherd's huts, and a legacy of proverbial wisdom rooted in the land and the elements.
In carrying on this legacy, we, as wineries, have a responsibility to restore and revitalize these places. Rooted in time, they deserve to have their dignity maintained within their environment.
Familia Torres’s historical Mas de l’Aranyó (18th century), home to Purgatori winery (DO Costers del Segre)
New spaces in old places. This new activity gives us the chance to talk about our wines and the history that surrounds them. These are spaces which ultimately let us understand ourselves.
Subject and object of different art forms
From personal creative inspiration to works enjoyed by all, wine has inspired—and been inspired by—curious minds and creative souls, who have transformed our reality throughout time to produce art and historical references.
In every single art form, without exception, wine has served as a symbolic or aesthetic object at one time or another.
Wine is present in all sorts of cultural and social settings, poured in the loge boxes of pristine opera houses, as well as within the wise old walls of old-timey taverns.
An element of social cohesion and revitalization
A quote by the literary master Josep Pla provides an illuminating reflection on how wine encourages exchange and understanding:
“Lo que el vino ha hecho para enriquecer la comprensión entre personas es inenarrable.” [Words cannot describe what wine has done to nourish mutual understanding among people.]
Drinking wine means conversing, listening, or digressing—wine creates a space of social communion.
The theory of total pleasure
We would like to share a reflection from the first volume of La Bullipedia¹ (one of the primary projects of the El Bulli Foundation), dedicated to wine:
The fact that pleasure is inherent to the human spirit is undeniable. The pleasures of love, music, literature, food... Diverse pleasures for different contexts, which the Canadian anthropologist Lionel Tiger categorized in his 1992 book The Pursuit of Pleasure: physical, social, psychological, and ideological pleasure.
Adrià, Roca, and Centelles write and reflect on how wine unites these four types of pleasure into one: Total Pleasure.
¹A space for gastronomy, creativity, and innovation, designed to learn and educate about the components that are needed for an encylopedia of fine dining.
In short, we experience physical pleasure through our organoleptic senses and the release of endorphins and other natural chemicals in our body.
Psychological pleasure connects to our expectations, our knowledge and experience, our wants and desires. Everything, in essence, that our mind projects and decodes as agents of anticipatory pleasure.
Pla, the poet, perfectly captured the notion of social pleasure in his aphorism, because we are all connected by an intangible desire—a desire for belonging and acceptance, to be part of a Whole whose entropy is determined by our actions toward ourselves and others. To love and be loved.
Ideological pleasure comes down to the influence of values—values acquired throughout our lives that inform everything we do. Our personality. Here pleasure becomes a sense of everyday well-being, like a glass of wine with a meal.
So. As physical entities, wineries become active agents, and the way they relate to their geographical, climatic, and social environment, a de facto cultural reality.
Sunset at Waltraud winery (Pacs del Penedès), a Familia Torres property.
Furthermore, wine acts as an agent of a new environmental awareness, whose principles and values we share. Co-creators, if you will, of a new world in which our existence can endure, because in the soul of wine we find everything a living thing can offer.