Isabel Fortuny

Isabel Fortuny

Ferrer-Bobet (Enóloga/Winemaker)

When it came time to decide what to study, she knew it had to be “outside work.”

Isabel Fortuny was born in the small village of El Catllar close to Tarragona — where she still lives — and grew up in a farming family. Her grandfather and father, and now mainly her younger brother, work the family farm, including growing olives and caring for its vineyards. When it came time to decide what to study, she knew it had to be “outside work.”

She decided on agricultural engineering and studied at Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona. When she finished her degree, she was too young to work as an engineer and so decided to study viticulture and oenology. She found that she “really liked it.” She worked for a short time in the lab of a large winery and then, in January 2003, went to Australia for an internship. She told us that her internship experience “confirmed that my passion is to make wine.” This passion could definitely be felt throughout our conversation and visit!

When Isabel returned from Australia in June 2003, she worked a harvest at Bodegas Torres. It was there that she met Raül Bobet, the person who has been an important teacher and mentor.

Raül, who was at Bodega Torres for many years as a technical director, was involved in a new project, Ferrer-Bobet, close to the small village of Porrera — population of some 460 — in the Priorat. He recruited Isabel for a position with the project, which she started in October 2003.

Isabel now holds the title of Enóloga at Ferrer-Bobet. She has been involved in all aspects of the project’s development, has been given increasingly more responsibility over the years, and loves the demanding nature of her work. Her background in agricultural engineering fits well with the winery’s focus on strictly organic viticulture and respect for the biodiversity of the unique Priorat terroir. The winery’s first vintage in 2005 used grapes from the hundred-year-old Cariñena (Carignane) and Garnacha Negra (Grenache) vines located on the steeply terraced property. Additional vineyards were planted in 2004 with varietals such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Cariñena and Garnacha Negra, all of which are farmed organically.

We were impressed with the design of this very modern-looking winery, which uses gravity throughout the whole process of winemaking, from arrival of the fruit to bottling. We were shown the 10-kg harvesting crates used in the first step of vinification and the double sorting table used for rigorously selecting the grapes. Isabel finds that teaching others how to sort is among the hardest aspects of the winemaking process!

Her parents and four siblings live close to Porrera and often come by to visit or help, especially during harvest. Her father, in particular, is happy that Isabel is a winemaker and is carrying on the family’s love of vineyards. Not surprisingly, he is very proud of her career path and her accomplishments.

The Wines. Isabel feels appreciated for her work and is very invested in the high standards set by the winery. Its wines consistently receive high ratings, such as the 93 points awarded by the Wine Enthusiast for the 2009 Selecció Especial Red and the 95 points awarded the 2008 Ferrer Bobet Priorat Vinyes Velles. We had a lovely tasting in the winery’s beautiful glass-walled tasting room overlooking the magnificent steeply hilled countryside and terraced vineyards. Both the 2012 Ferrer-Bobet Vinyes Velles and the 2011 Selecció Especial, which is from specially selected parcels, were impressive.