La Conca de Barberà


Wine throughout the history of Conca de Barberà

The development of viticulture in Conca de Barberà has been closely linked to the historical development of the region. Its earliest records date back to Roman times, and possibly even earlier than that. During the Arab occupation, vineyards virtually disappeared from the territory because the Quran prohibits its cultivation. It was not until the Middle Ages that vineyards would play a significant role again.
Cooperativa de Barberà de la Conca. La més antiga de l'estat Espanyol
» Cooperativa de Barberà de la Conca. La més antiga de l'estat Espanyol

In the 12th century, the Catalans began to colonise the region of Conca de Barberà. Two institutions, the Cistercian Order of monks of the abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet, and the Knights Templar who had settled in Barberà, transmitted their knowledge and experience in terms of the most profitable and appropriate ways of cultivating vineyards with a view to obtaining the best wines to local farmers. These teachings of the monks, handed down from generation to generation, still persist today.

The cultivation of vineyards in Conca de Barberà took another giant leap towards the end of the 18th century, and especially in the mid-19th century. The export of wine and liquor to Northern Europe and the Americas almost turned the cultivation of vineyards into a trademark of the region with terraces being constructed in the mountains to maximise the amount of arable land. Around the same time, the railway line from Reus to Montblanc was built as a faster and more economical means to transfer wine from Conca de Barberà to Tarragona’s sea ports.

A phylloxera infestation spreading across the region at the end of the 19th century brought its heyday to an abrupt end. But the region’s wine growers spared no effort in order to pick themselves up with new momentum. Conca de Barberà pioneered the establishment of agricultural co-operatives linked primarily to wine production in Catalonia, and in the rest of Spain.

Thus, in 1894, the farmers of the village of Barberà founded a trade union to produce wine concertedly. Under the influence of Joan Espulgas, a land owner who had learnt how to fight the phylloxera during a trip to France, the trade union began to repopulate the vineyards of Conca de Barberà with plants. Their efforts were crowned with success: In 1903, the nation’s first-ever building designed as a co-operative winery was erected in the village of Barberà.

Soon after, Josep M. Rendé, from l’Espluga de Francolí, became the leader of the co-operative movement in the region and pushed forward the construction of a winery of his town in 1912.

It is also worth mentioning Joan Poblet i Teixidó, a lawyer and journalist from Montblanc, who used the weekly newspaper at the time as a means of encouraging farmers to join forces, and Albert Talavera, also a lawyer, who promoted the consolidation of the region’s co-operatives within a federation.