Maria Sangenís

Maria Sangenís

Sangenís Vaqué (Enóloga/Winemaker)

The renewed interest in the Priorat gave her the future she had hoped for with her family’s winery.

The story of Sangenís i Vaqué, S.L begins in the 18th century with a family that produced wines. Fast forward to the 20th century and to 1973, when Maria’s parents, Conxita and Pere, married. At that time, her mother inherited a winery and her father had a connection to the historic family vineyards. Bodega Sangenís i Vaqué was founded five years later. The family survived by selling its wine in bulk and marketing other products such as olives and nuts that they produced. Until the resurgence of interest in the Priorat area, it was a very hard life for Maria’s parents and their four daughters.

Maria Sangenís i Vaqué, the second youngest of the four daughters, cared deeply about the family winery and what her parents were wanting to accomplish in the face of very difficult odds. The renewed interest in the Priorat was a gift of sorts, as it meant that Maria could have a future in her family’s winery.

In 2000, Maria began five years of study at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, in food engineering for the first three years and then in enology for the last two years. She completed a practicum in Ribera del Duero in 2006 and then began working with her father at the winery. He had revived the tradition of winemaking in the old cellar that belonged to Conxita’s grandfather and had rebuilt parts of the winery in 2000. Maria said that she has learned as much, if not more, from her father than she did at the university. She is also well networked with the other young winemakers in the Priorat.

Maria, who is soft-spoken and quietly radiant, is thrilled to be able to carry out the family’s winemaking traditions. She is involved in all aspects of the winemaking and finds the work challenging and personally rewarding. She also has the added responsibility of being in charge of selling the wines!

The winery is small but masterfully rebuilt by her father in 2000 in order “to work smart” (e.g., barrels are not moved about in the cellar; rather, different sections of the floor are moved for this and various other winery activities). They farm organically and use only their own grapes from the family’s old vines, which are hand picked.

Sangenís i Vaqué produces some 25,000 bottles each year. Its wines are typically aged in French and American oak for 12 months. They are then bottled unfined and unfiltered, as we observed during our visit. As Maria explained, “this places their wines amongst the purest and most traditional.”

The Wines. The winery’s tasting room is totally unassuming and absolutely charming, as is the very talented Maria. We tasted many excellent wines, including its consistently highly rated Clos Monlleó, Coranya, and Vall Por, and Maria’s own project, the 2013 Lo Coster Blanc. The Clos Monlleó Gran Reserva 2000 was awarded a silver medal by Decanter World Wine Awards 2014. For their Coranya, their Garnacha and Cariñena are blended 50:50, as they were historically. We brought back bottles of the 2001 Sangenís i Vaqué Coranya and the 2000 Clos Monlleó Gran Reserva (!!) and thoroughly enjoyed each of them.