The sense of unity among the people of Barcelona that I referenced in my previous blog was increasingly felt during my sneak-peek into the Catalonian community. First we traveled to the Penedés region to the Euadald Massana Noya winery. Albert Massana worked at this winery and was our enthusiastic and wise tour guide. Albert has been working in the vineyards of Penedés since he was 8 years old so to say he’s an expert would be an understatement. The passion he displayed while teaching our group the history of wine’s cultivation and production seemed to be deeply rooted with the long-standing family ties to the land. Nine generations of his family have successfully maintained the vineyard and from what I observed, this role becomes their identity. Their qualities and their beliefs revolve around their vineyard. Albert’s tan skin and swollen fingers are a result of his hard work in the Mediterranean sun to not only making a living but to preserve a lifestyle; the lifestyle that his ancestors instilled. A woman at the vineyard explained that they believe that the grapes agricultural growth is in accordance with the cycles of the moon. Their lives are in direct accordance with nature that made me perceive them as humble and pure. Their work seemed both luxurious and laborious, seemingly an oxymoron. Luxurious in the sense that they wake up and work in their own yard on their own land on one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever encountered to produce a bubbly delicacy, specific to their region, called cava. Laborious in the sense that they are physically working year-round, with little room for error, to not only produce perfect grapes but then transform those graves into a variety of wines. I feel it is uncommon for Americans to identify through their occupations. Working seems to be the inconvenient barrier and time-consumer in the way of finding one’s identity in the states. Another noted difference I believe true is that if someone were to farm according to natural phases in the U.S. they would be ignorantly viewed as “hippies” and their methods would be judged as inefficient. Additionally, I feel that long-time, family-owned businesses are not as common in America. Under 33% of family businesses last the transition from the first generation to the second and another 50% die off transitioning to the 3rd generation. Too often, I hear stories of falling outs that families have had over working together. Perhaps this offers further insight on the prioritization of family values and unity within the culture in Spain.
After a satisfying and authentic Catalonian meal, we advanced on with the day to an olive oil production site called Ca La Madrona. Antonio was the expert guide in this field and he provided insight on the old and new ways of oil production. Although arduous, he described the older methods as “romantic” in comparison to the newer, efficient way. What resonated with me most from this tour occurred in our last few minutes. Antonio opened his shop for us to purchase olive oils but only offered oils produced using the newer method. Due to a drought, oils from the older method were limited and he had to save them for the people of his community. By the reactions of our group, Antonio knew he could easily have a large sale off of us but still refused. This value on feeding and producing for your community over a value of profit is nonexistent in America. It was refreshing to experience the thirst for money removed from a business environment and again, a prioritization of community.