Training practices in the wine sector

From April 18 to May 9, the practical training activity ‘Ecological wine production – studying the experience of Catalonia’ took place in Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona), where we offered an exchange and learning experience to 7 students from the professional training school ‘Hristo Botev’ (‘Vocational school of wine growing and producing’), whose were accompanied by two teachers, the director and the accountant of the school.

Students, aged 16 and 17 and originally from the small town of Perushtitsa (Bulgaria), have enjoyed a program full of activities, the main one of which were training practices over 8 mornings in one of the most recognized cellars in the region: ‘Vega de Ribes‘, in Sant Pere de Ribes. The small group has carried out tasks of purging, bottling, labeling, which has allowed them to learn about different techniques and processes for winemaking, under the careful supervision of the company’s director of production, who has accompanied them and explained the work processes during all the time.

The group enjoyed several visits to discover about the work (challenges, organization) of leading professionals in the sector, visiting the city’s Wine Cooperative and the organic vineyard of the ‘7 Pams’ company, both situated in Vilanova. Another day was dedicated to visiting the Recaredo wine company, where they learned about its impressive cellars and the ‘disgorge’ process, as well as the School of Wine Tourism of Catalonia, so that, with the help of its teachers and students, they learned about the studies they offer, taking advantage of the trip to Sant Sadurní de Anoia and Vilafranca del Penedès (cities we can consider the wine capitals of the region) to enjoy the wine-growing landscape of the Garraf, Alt Penedès and Anoia counties, where are growing the grapes making the Penedès wine, which is the most known denomination of origin existing in the wine region of Catalonia (among 11 different ones).

The group also visited Barcelona on two occasions, including a visit to the Barça Museum and the Camp Nou, and spent a Saturday getting to know the neighboring city of Sitges.

Despite the lack of knowledge of English by the students, the activity was carried out as planned thanks to a teacher, translator from English to Bulgarian (as well as thanks to google translate) allowing us to carry out the first activity half in English half in Bulgarian, and allowing the group getting to know and understand the work of professionals in the wine sector, cooperatives, social enterprises, while working side by side with professionals who have shared their knowledge, being able to enjoy a practical training experience that, according to the evaluation sheets of the activity, has led them to meet new perspectives, discover new interests and gain new skills.

Beyond the internship program and the educational tasks entrusted to them, the group participated in the tradition of ‘la Diada de Sant Jordi’ (Saint George day) on the same day that they celebrated Orthodox Easter, as well as learn about other Catalan traditions, such as the ‘castells’ (human towers) or the ‘calçotada’, a gastronomical event that served to close, thank and say goodbye to the group on their last day of internship in Vega de Ribes.

Once the program finished and the final evaluation was carried out (whose results were very positive, both in terms of what was learned and the general experience), on Sunday, May 8, the group dedicated the morning to a reconstruction of the walls of a pathway together with the ‘Salvem l’Ortoll’ Platform, thus contributing to the improvement of the natural environment of a city that will undoubtedly be present in its memory for a long time.

This is the 3rd activity that the FCV hosts, starring high school students from rural Bulgaria, on topics as diverse as winemaking, ecological agriculture or business management and administration.

It is the result of a partnership between the Fundació Catalunya Voluntària, the ‘Stara Zagora’ Center for European Initiatives and the ‘Hristo Botev’ wine school in Perushitsi, thanks to the support of the Erasmus+ program of the European Commission and the National Agency of Bulgaria.

For more information about the activity and its results, you can send an email to projectes@catalunyavoluntaria.cat