DO Conca de Barberà winery, Rendé Masdéu washed away by torrential rains & flooding
by Miquel Hudin | 23-10-2019 | 2 Comments
Southern Catalunya recorded epic rains yesterday which caused widespread damage including: flooding of homes, various roads being closed due to mudslides, and train service being cut due to flooded tracks. There have been two confirmed deaths as well as two people presumed dead. Sadly, in what is an extreme rarity, the winery Rendé Masdéu and its restaurant in DO Conca de Barberà were literally wiped out of existence by a swell in the Francolí River that runs alongside where their cellar stood.
As stated by owner, Mariona Rendé, “The river has carried away everything. There’s nothing left. No walls, nor roof, nor tanks, nor bottles, nor barrels, nothing. It’s as if you were standing in a landfill.”
Rubbing salt in the wounds, they had just finished harvest the week previously, “Last Thursday we finished the harvest and had everything in the cellar and now, nothing remains. It had been a very good harvest.”
These rains of 22 October were abnormally heavy, sweeping up from Catalunya’s south and continuing north. Other regions such as Priorat saw 160mm (6.3in) of rainfall earlier in the day. While exceedingly high (total yearly rainfall is usually 380mm), the majority of it fell in a heavy downpour in the afternoon, thus inundating the soil and waterways, causing flooding. The day after, everything has largely subsided allowing damage to be assessed.
The difference in l’Espluga de Francolí is that while they received nearly the same amount of rain as other regions with 157mm, it all washed down into the river, dragging along debris which backed up at the one of the main bridges just next to the cellar. Once it jumped the bridge, the torrent of water took the entire cellar downstream with it.
While it’s unfortunately a common occurrence for wineries to flood as they’re underground and in soils conducive to water easily flowing through them, the instances of a winery being washed away by flooding are exceedingly rare. Mariona added, “With us here on the side, we had pursued it both actively and passively that the river had to be cleaned and that a day would pass like this. When the river overflowed, it was very dirty. This [the lack of cleaning] has not helped.”
DO Conca de Barberà may not be well known outside of Catalunya as the majority of their grape production is sold to DO Cava. Thus, the cellars who are producing wine within the DO are a small, tightly-knit, and very supportive group. Immediately after learning the news, the DO immediately tweeted their support for the cellar and there’s been a massive outpouring of sympathy since.
Naturally, tweets and words don’t rebuild wineries which is why the DO announced there would be further solidarity and support for Rendé Masdéu to help them rebuild and get back on their feet. The president of the DO, Bernat Masdéu, the president of the Catalan wine authority, INCAVI, and others met to discuss what they could do, potentially using the next Festa del Trepat in 2020 as a fundraising platform.
The immediate and overall support within the wine sector has been extremely encouraging to see when there are those who find themselves in truly unfortunate circumstances. Best wishes to Rendé Masdéu in rebuilding #alvostrecostat.