This Catalan estate began with a dream by Glòria Garriga, an agronomic engineer, to live side by side with nature on a hill in Font-rubí, near Barcelona. She always wanted to live in a house on that hill with her daughter, Berta, producing wines in tune with nature. Despite testing wines as part of her profession, Glòria had never made her own wine before, but her dream became a reality, and Els Jelipins, as it became known, produced its first vintages in 2003.
Despite the success of Els Jelipins today, it was initially difficult to gain a foothold in the local wine scene. “No one in the local market would have us,” said Glòria. “We first tried to sell the wine in Spain, it was a disaster. So we loaded the car and went to the Basque Country, northern Spain and Catalonia, where some very good restaurants opened their doors because they had foreign sommeliers. They understood the wine, and liked it.” Since then, the wine has become far more popular locally, as word started to spread and people’s tastes changed. “There has been a huge liberation of people who want to have their own experience.”
The wines are fermented with only naturally occurring local yeasts, and without fining or filtration. The solar-powered farmhouse has been covered with plants to help maintain the temperature inside, the only way in which the level of heat is controlled. The ageing process takes place over a long period in large, open oak barrels. The only chemical additive is a small amount of sulphur during bottling. “I am very lucky, the cellar is under my room. I spend hours going up and down the stairs every day to taste all the barrels. You acquire an intuition.”
Glòria & Berta
For Glòria, it is not about the money, but the love of the task and the environment. So the estate only produces around 2,300 bottles of red a year and as little as 200 bottles of white.
Jelipins uses only a few selected growers with hillside vineyards, with whom they work closely to ensure vine maintenance is done carefully by hand. These vineyards are chosen based on locality, soil composition, vine age and grape variety. The vines are supported by local nature, with oak trees, an olive tree and wild boars adding to the ecosystem.
“What is important in wine is the sensation. This sensation of freshness and acidity, it’s like electricity in your mouth. It should give energy, not take energy.”
Each bottle is painted with a small heart-based design and each vintage is a new treat, offering characteristics reflecting the changing nature of the complex ecosystem of Font-rubí.
“Now, everything is so quick, my challenge is to make a wine that allows you to meditate. We do what we want to do, and we do it with passion.”
Away from the nearby farms, producing mass quantities of Cava using conventional techniques, Glòria located various small plots of abandoned Sumoll vines. “They looked like anarchist vineyards, every plant was very strange,” said Glòria. The Garriga family shunned conventional techniques and concentrated on making natural wines in a place they love. To do this, they needed to work closely with growers to ensure natural techniques.Els Jelipins Location