Situated in a landscape of timeless beauty, the vineyards of Mas Estela drape themselves across the steep hillsides of Catalonia's Saint Roma valley, inhabiting a microclimate that is ideal for wine. The estate is located in the village of Selva de Mar, in the northeast of Spain, on a small peninsula just south of the border with France.
Mas Estela inhabits a crossroads of sorts, between the eastern edge of the Pyrenees Mountains and the Gulf of Leon, which lies just 3 kilometers away of the France south border. The estate ranges from 80 to 250 meters above sea level with a typical gradient of at least 35 percent, as the land follows the undulating folds of the Rodes hills and the contours of the dramatic valley cut into the land by the La Selva stream.
The dry air of the north wind, known locally as the Tratamontana, sweeps across the vineyards, while cool air rises up from the Mediterranean Sea below. Winters are mild, summers are warm, and about 500ml of rain falls to the ground here each year to refresh the vines and help them absorb nutrients from the fertile slate soil. With the vines leafed out in the summer and stitched across the hillsides like embroidery, contrasting with the vibrant blue ocean in the distance below, a person would be justified in considering Mas Estela one of the most beautiful places they'd ever seen. All in all, a fine climate for growing grapes and making wine.
Since Mas Estela is located within Spain's Cap de Creus National Park, it's only fitting that it is run with an eye towards natural stewardship of the land and biodynamic agricultural practices. This land has been appreciated since 974, when, noting its beauty and fertility, Count Wilfred of Empuries donated it to the Monastery of St Peter of Rodes. Traditionally, monks were great cultivators of wine, so it is fair to assume they too saw this land's strong potential for creating flavorful grapes and fine wines.
Mas Estela's current owners, the Soto-Dalmau family, acquired the 50-hectare property in 1989 and began a lengthy process of restoring this ancient estate. The family planted several different types of grapes, following organic practices from 1989-1999 and biodynamic practices ever since. By planting, pruning, and harvesting according to astrological markers and by refusing to use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides, the Soto-Dalmau family has succeeding in creating wines with a lovely terroir or sense of place. Hopefully when people taste their wines, they will feel a connection to the earth and perhaps even be transported to the wild hillsides of Catalonia with each sip.
Currently, 16 hectares of vineyards are under cultivation at Mas Estela. There are 6 hectares of red Grenache, 4 hectares of Syrah, 3 hectares of Carignan, 2 hectares of Monastrell, and 1 hectare of Muscat de Alemandria. The wines produced from these grapes are aged in French oak casks for 12 to 18 months. In accordance with Mas Estela's commitment to ecofriendly practices, the barrels are 20 percent renewed each year.