- Emporda, Catalonia, Spain
Anna Espelt started out working on her family’s estate, Espelt Viticultors in 2005 which is located in the DO Empordà. Having studied habitat restoration and organic farming, Anna has always sought to bring her values in line with the farming practices at her family’s large estate of 200 hectares. While managing her family’s operations, she has also been pursuing something more personal – a project focused on 25 hectares of vineyards collectively called Mas Marés located within the Cap de Creus Nature Reserve of Spain. While hiking around this area, she not only recognized the potential to revitalize some ailing vineyard sites, but she discovered evidence of human interaction with this ancient landscape dating back to the early bronze age. At once, Anna knew this place was special, not only for the wine that it could produce but for the very fact that humans had been interacting with this place for millennia.
When asked to describe her work in Cap Creus, Anna states that it is a land of granite, wind, blue skies, and the smell of wild herbs and sea spray. While it may seem odd that she doesn’t mention vineyards in this description, it is largely because vines have been an integral part of this landscape shaped in equal parts by nature and human hands. In the US, our National Parks strive to minimize the impact of civilization, whereas, in this part of Catalunya, there is no escaping it. What might seem like a relic of a glacier is, in fact, a standing stone erected by human hands over 4000 years ago for some long-forgotten purpose. With Anna’s dedication to organic and regenerative farming, these vineyards can once again be brought into balance with the surrounding flora and fauna. Through her work, Anna is paying tribute to the thousands of years of interaction between her ancestors and the land they’ve inhabited.