Located southwest of the Spanish city of Barcelona, the Penedès wine appellation straddles two coastal provinces—both that of Barcelona, in the north, and Tarragona further south. Penedès is known not only for still wines, but for sparkling ‘Cava.’
Josep María Albet i Noya, winemaker and owner of Albet i Noya winery in the Penedès, remembers when his father and grandfather died in the 1970’s. He was a teenager. His mother told him he was now responsible to slaughter their livestock for meat.
“I said no, then stopped eating meat for five years,” he said when we recently met. “Then Denmark wanted organic wines, and they chose me because I was vegetarian! No one made organic wines back then. I was a vegetarian at the right place at the right moment.
“In 1978 we made 8,000 bottles of Tempranillo organic wine for Denmark. I like to travel, so visited Denmark. It was a big discovery. People at my age of 18 wore rings and leather pants, but they were business people! So often we would sell wine and then have to ask for payment three or four times. But these people? They paid right away, or in advance.”
From this first international foray, his winery has expanded and diversified. Last year it sold a million bottles from its 200 acres (80 hectares) of vines, as well from other locally purchased grapes (Source 2).