VITICULTURISTS IN BALDOMAR

Vall de Baldomar is a family project that Hermenegildo Porta Trepat began in the 1980s. Right from the word go he had the indispensable help of Joan Milà, who unfortunately passed away in 2010. Today Hermenegildo Porta runs the winery along with his daughter Marta.

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The world of viticulture has always been tied to the village of Baldomar, which at first made wine for its own use. In the middle of the photo is Francesc Porta, Hermenegildo’s father, and some villagers in 1946.

What is Vall de Baldomar? It is the outcome of a whole cluster of experiences, a winery which in the beginning was a personal adventure and slowly through lots of hard work and effort has become a business. Vall de Baldomar is also a tribute to my roots and the result of a profound regard for the place where my parents came from, the village of Baldomar.

How did it all begin? Although I am not a farmer, I come from a family of farmers. When I was a child I trod the grapes. The village lived off wine then. I am a younger son and so I left the village when I was 14 to become a mechanic in Artesa de Segre. In 1959 when I was 18 I went to live in Barcelona. But the land always pulls you back and after many years I had the chance to buy an old barn in Baldomar and a patch of land to plant a vineyard. That would have been 1980 or 1981. So it all began quite simply with the idea of making wine for me and going back to my roots, remembering my childhood.

Where does this personal urge come from? Well, firstly I have always had an innovative spirit, a desire to create something different and better. This has served me well in the profession of car mechanic, which has given me means and resources. But then I am also a romantic. With age I have increasingly appreciated the effort that my parents, who were a humble family, made to raise three children and give them all a trade. Hence creating the winery has been some kind of recognition for them.

What was the key moment, the point when it became clear that this personal project might also make sense as a company too? Meeting Joan Milà was crucial as he was the oenologist who guided us in the beginning and then also became a partner in the company later on. I was really looking forward to making different wines, and he told me it could be done. He gave us a lot of security and a great vision. He was a genius, very independent yet very approachable at the same time. He was a great friend.
With him we planted our first experimental vineyard in 1981. Then in 1983 we built the winery and shortly afterwards we made our first wine, as yet with no brand name. Gradually we gained in confidence and finally in 1989 we set up the company and we brought out our first wine with a label, an extraordinary and surprising rosé.

What makes this area different, unique? The first day I brought Joan Milà to Baldomar, when we crossed the bridge and he saw the whole valley, he exclaimed: “It looks like northern Italy!” It was May and everything was all green and in bloom. It looked like a garden, a small paradise. I think this landscape adds a lot of personality.
Then if we look at the details, there are other factors that make a difference: the microclimatic conditions, soil type, the varieties that we have planted and especially the people working on the land, the viticulture we do, which is designed to restrict productivity.

And all this affects the style of the wines. That’s right. In the case of white wines, for example, the varieties are very important, and for rosé wines it is the production system. For red wine it is perhaps the location that gives them their personality. In general the micro-area is really important: the set of unique climatic conditions affecting the vines in Baldomar. On the other side of the Segre, merlot, for example, does not have this unique taste.

What does the market think of your wines? I think it is quite impressed as we get very good ratings, especially for our Cristiari line. It is a brand that is based on excellent raw material. It provides premium product quality and also comes with an image and a style people like. It is the apple of our winery’s eye.

Where does the name ‘Cristiari’ come from? It came about in an odd way. In 1989 when we were bringing out our first rosé wine, we decided that such a great product should have its own name, so the whole family got together to brainstorm some ideas. After two weeks we had got 74 names, all of them local place names: ravines, streams, springs, mountains, farms and so on. In the end we had a shortlist of four and the winner was ‘Cristiari’, a name that appears in ancient notarial documents: the formula “Praies et Cristiari” refers to an area of the town on the road towards the Salgar chapel. With the help of the priest we then had in the village, Monsignor Joan Fenosa, we managed to work out that the expression referred to the path along which the prayers of Christians used to be taken.

 The family dream that we started in the early 1980s came about because we wanted to go back to our roots and with a lot of hard work and dedication it has come true.

The family dream that we started in the early 1980s came about because we wanted to go back to our roots and with a lot of hard work and dedication it has come true.

Where can people find your wines? We have always been in middle to upmarket restaurants, in selected stores and in our direct sales channel since we opened the winery at the weekend in the mid-1990s to receive visitors and sell products. This was very important, especially for the direct contact with customers you get from it. There we can talk, make deals, we tell them about how we do things, what we are like and how we enjoy ourselves.

How would you take stock of the Vall de Baldomar? By the very nature of the product, a winery is a long-term undertaking. This is especially so in our case as all the vines were newly planted. Well, it hasn’t been easy; we’ve had to carve out a place in the market, work hard, learn and deal with setbacks. Now looking at how it’s all gone, I’m happy that we’ve managed to produce different, premium quality products. Right from the start I knew that we had to do something different because otherwise it would be pointless.

And you’ve been successful in your search for that difference.Yes. Our rosé and white wines are pleasantly surprising and we are working on our reds to bring out their personality. Monastrell grapes could well be a great opportunity in this respect, for example. Then in addition to the varieties we are also working on the soil factor, on a specific location.