This Monday we talk with Jaume Ciurana’s family, a recurring name in all the articles that we have published over the last few weeks. Therefore, he deserves a review of his career given the undoubted importance that he had for Priorat and, above all, for its development during these past 30 years. For this reason, we ask his widow, Mrs M. Dolors Llevadot, and his children, Blanca and Jaume Ciurana, to talk about him and about his life.
Born in Barcelona, and with a mother from Falset (although his son Jaume tells us that he has been able to trace the family origins until the 18th century). He studied Pharmacy (like his father) and Oenology (in Talence, France). When someone asks about his political career, M. Dolors tells us that he was a boy scout (representative of the Catholic Scout Movement of Barcelona). She says it proud of it because this explains everything. If we try to find the philosophy of the association, the goal kept throughout the years is: educate children and young people through the scout and guide method in order to make them become active, aware and committed with society.
He started his oenologist career as technical director of the Masia Bach winery, and some years later, he worked in Codorniu, where he was asked to renovate the Raimat winery. Clos Clamor and Clos Abadia are two wines which owe their names to him (he was very clever, and he found names that could not be translated, because he wanted to give them Catalan names – tells us his son Jaume). And from there, he jumped into institutions. Proposed by the minister Josep Roig (Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of the provisional Government of Catalonia from 1977 until 1980), he took the management of the Catalonia Wine Institute (INCAVI) and the oenological stations of Vilafranca and Reus. There, he started to spread his ideas about wine: the fact of taking care of the whole cycle, taking care of the plant, the making process, the final product and its commercialisation, and he emphasized this last part.
He worked hard to make people understand the importance of the roles of commercial agent and manager, mostly in the cooperatives, in order to free the farmers from this responsibility and give professional status to this part of the business which was so important. He also insisted on the need to reduce the alcohol content of the wines, M. Dolors tells us, because wines from Priorat in the 1980s were wines with an alcohol content of 17 and 18 degrees. In addition to that, he made people participate in the modernisation process of the wineries, convincing them of the importance of investing in stainless steel tanks placed outside the buildings (he discovered it in a trip to California with his daughter Blanca). He always looked for that quality of the wine that he wanted to achieve so much, and he was convinced that it could be achieved with the appropriate means.
His position as director allowed him to meet the priest Ciurana. With him, he had the possibility of creating second-degree studies in vine growing and oenology, and later, with Lluis Arola Ferrer, he created the Faculty of Oenology of the Rovira i Virgili University. With these new studies, he gave to many people the opportunity to study this specialty at home without having to go outside Catalonia and, of course, to train the new professionals of the world of wines that could work later at our home.
From the Catalonia Wine Institute (INCAVI), Jaume Ciurana created the Catalan Wine and Cava Fair. It was an innovative fair format that allowed the final client to be closer to the producer and winemaker. Since the first fair, in 1980, more fairs have been organised until now. It is a resource widely used by all the towns/villages and cities in all kinds of festivals and celebrations.
We ask them to tell us an anecdote that they remember and, obviously, it is hard to remember only one, because there are many which accumulated in his round trips from Barcelona to Priorat, where he visited wineries and cooperatives, and worked to infect people with his taste for good wine and the willing of doing things well. Finally, M. Dolors remembers a strongly worded letter from the Minister of Health (friend and colleague of Jaume Ciurana Galceran), because Jaume always said that people should drink wine in moderation, and that what was harmful were distilled spirits. However, it coincided with a very important campaign in the media, and his comments did not like, she laughs.
But he had a dream: to build his own winery… He would have probably achieved it if his life had not ended so early, when he was 50 years old. He had just planted in Mas Ciurana, the estate of the family that they had in Falset, and that they sold at the end of the 1980s, Chardonnay and Cabernet, two foreign and promising varieties.
We have many things to thank to Jaume Ciurana Galceran: his catalanity, his willing to help the country, his determination, and his dedication to work. He had this vision of Priorat, and he achieved to place everybody in that direction, his family tells us. It is a pity that he did not get to see his legacy and the evolution of the region.
Thank you, M. Dolors, Jaume and Blanca, for the memories that you have shared with us.
We leave a fragment of the interview he did in Joaquim M Puyal program “Vostè pregunta” (You ask) in 1983