Welcome to Scala Dei Cellars,
in a privileged place
We have kept silent and have listened. We have broken time. We have sunk our hands in the very ground and heard its beat. We have immersed by the voices of the wind and the silence.
And, up from the highest vineyards, we have let the landscape speak for itself. We have obeyed the genuine dictation of Montsant; the silent prayer of Cartoixa.
We have obeyed the voices of men who, from generation to generation, have worked the vines; the rough and true words of the Priorat‘s land; the soil of llicorella and clay; the provocation of Grenache.
We have taken a sip from the past so that we can earn the future. We are wine souls, made of soil, thoughts and emotions. We are a true bond between our parents and children. We are the fruit of a time and space: a sip of life.
Land of vineyards
Back in 1775, the British traveller Henry Swinburne stated that, in the region of Reus, “the best wine is the one made from the Carthusian mountains”. Two centuries later, these mountains are still being cultivated with vines that produce excellent wines, which makes this raw material be recognised, both in the past and nowadays.
Viticulture has taken place in various Scaladei cellar estates for hundreds of years now. In these lands the vines have been unspoiled throughout centuries, since the grapes produced have always reached an acknowledged quality. The grapes used to make our wines come from vineyards that are, on average, 50 years old. It holds almost 70 hectares ─of mainly Grenache and Carignan─ distributed into 41 different country estates which, very often, are little worlds that have nothing to do with each other, a fact that requires them to be dealt with according to their peculiarities. We find estates between 400 and 800 metres above the sea level, which turns them into the highest vineyards in Priorat.. There are 3 types of soil ─slates, clay and calcareous soils─ and, due to the rugged terrain in the area, they are in all the possible orientations. These features provide us with a wide range of nuances in the wine making, always paying attention to the smallest details within production, considering it is the very same winery that directly controls and works the country estates.
Founded by the same families that bought Cartoixa in 1840, Scala Dei cellars are the true history of wine in Priorat. This winery produced the very first bottles of wine in Priorat in 1878, which were sent to the Paris World’s Fair. Their wines are still being aged today in the old Carthusians’ cava, from the 17th century, which is now exclusively open to guided tours.
The foundation of Cartoixa
On the initiative of king Alfons II, the Carthusians who arrived from Provence settled in Scala Dei. However, a properly conditioned Cartoixa was not open until 1215, which included a church and 12 individual cubicles. Cartoixa was gradually given privileges, which translated into protection from the king and some of the most powerful families in the country.
The monks acquired pieces of land from several territories and started gaining knowledge about viticulture. In time, Cartoixa developed their own Manual de Plantar Vinyes (Vine Growing Manual), where they already stated: “Not all the plants are good, nor do they ripe to be grown in cold land. As for red varieties, only Grenache and Mataró are recommended”.
Beyond the clergy, who would enjoy a contemplative live, Cartoixa d’Scala Dei was never quiet. In the late 16th century, the monks initiated a great transformation of Cartoixa, which became an expansion focus of the Renaissance in Catalonia. Scala Dei was, at the time, an artistic beacon, and the convent walls used to present paintings by the great Raphael.
Confiscation of Mendizábal
The monks quickly abandoned the monastery due to what is known as the government seizure of Mendizábal. The locals, who were furious and tired of paying debts and First Fruits, assaulted Cartoixa, which was completely destroyed within just a few years. The Cartusians never came back to the land they had inhabited for over 600 years.
The union. Wine exploitation
As a result of the seizure that had taken place a few years before, Cartoixa and its surrounding lands were auctioned. The land’s property was distributed among 5 families. These new owner families then founded a society in order to put unproductive pieces of land back to work, as well as promote wine growing. This society ─known as Societat Agrícola la Unió─ was the origin of what we know today as Scala Dei cellars.
The first bottled wine in Priorat
The owner families in the old Cartoixa bottled wine in 1878, which were the very first wines to be bottled in Priorat. Its labels proudly showed that the wines were made in Priorato de Scala-Dei, which was already an acknowledgement of their location and terroir.
Success in the Paris World’s Fair
The wines bottled as Priorat de Scala-Dei took part in the 1878 Paris World’s Fair ─in a pavilion specially assigned to agriculture─, where they were awarded a Gold Medal. Ten years later, in the 1888 Barcelona World’s Fair, they achieved a Gold Medal once again.
Scala Dei requests wine protection
Various owners in the region, among which we find Scala Dei, mobilised to protect the reputation of Priorat. A few years later, the Estatut del Vi del Ministeri d’Agrigultura recognised “Priorato de Scala-Dei” Priorat as a winegrowing area to be protected. However, the beginning of the Civil War hindered the constitution of DO Priorat, which had to wait until 1954.
Refurbishment of Scala Dei
Scala Dei Cellars were re-founded and introduced the first “modern” Priorat wines. This winery went even further launching an ambitious advertising campaign. For years, and up to the wine great success of the 90s, Scala Dei Cellars were one of the very few private wineries to bottle Priorat wines.
Transfer of Cartoixa
After several unsuccessful attempts with the Administration, the owners of Scala Dei Cellars transferred the old Cartoixa ─which had been acquired on an auction in the mid-19th century─ to the Generalitat de Catalunya so that they could start an archaeological renovation while enhancing its tourist attraction. From that moment on, Cartoixa has welcomed over 20.000 tourists every year.
Let’s make the future
Scala Dei Cellars take a step forward with the renovation of its technical team and the introduction of important changes in the wine production. The wine is conceived from the vineyard, taking care of the viticulture at its best, endeavouring to achieve the maximum expression of each one of the terroirs.
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Rambla Cartoixa, S/N
Priorat – Catalunya
Cellar: +34 977 82 70 27
Shop / Visits: +34 977 82 71 73
Fax: +34 977 827 044
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