Mas Roger, towards an outdoor search space

Mas Roger, in the municipality of Cabacés (Priorat), faces a new stage. The old farmhouse, with origins in the 15th century, but enlarged and remodeled at the beginning of the last century by the Vidal Llecha family from Reus, is practically consolidated. Meanwhile, in its surroundings the ground is already being prepared to become a whole research and training center in the open air and an informative space. Vitec, the Wine Technology Center, has already begun to take its first steps towards what will be an experimental farm for sustainable viticulture. It will be the first within a natural park, in this case, the Serra de Montsant. "A unique opportunity", values ​​the general director of Vitec, Sergi de Lamo.

Other entities in the territory, such as Safranòria, could also end up entering the Mas Roger estate to develop various projects. And it is that, as explained by the mayor of Cabacés, Jaume Pujals, the objective of the recovery of the farmhouse goes far beyond an architectural rehabilitation. In fact, the works are only the starting point, emphasizing the multiple possibilities that the nearly 100 hectares of the farm have for research and training.

For now, work continues on the consolidation of the farmhouse, protected as a Cultural Asset of Local Interest. Some works that could be finished in a few weeks. The action is carried out in 80% of the whole, which corresponds to the part that the Generalitat acquired in 2007, while the remaining 20% ​​is private.

After years of looting, they opted to recover the complex. This summer, the consolidation work began with a budget of more than 155,000 euros financed by three parties: the Generalitat, through the OSIC; the Provincial Council of Tarragona; and the Cabacés Town Hall. Regarding the rehabilitation of facades, there will be a grant from Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda.

At the same time, work has been done on the transfer of use of the farmhouse in favor of the Cabacés City Council, which has recently been resolved favorably. The consistory requested it from the Generalitat at the beginning of February 2022 with the objective of its "agricultural, recreational/tourist use, research, training, conservation and dissemination of natural, historical, architectural and ethnographic values", described in the resolution issued by the Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda of the Generalitat. After a favorable report, the file to grant the transfer of use was launched and the resolution was made public in mid-October. On the other hand, and according to the URV, "we already have the plan for uses", also adds the mayor of Cabacés. So the project is already on track to start the new stage of Mas Roger.

Experimenting with the vineyard

Who is already preparing the ground is Vitec. As explained by the general director, Sergi de Lamo, the approach is to create a sustainable experimental farm, "with the minimum presence of tractors, reduction of phytosanitary products, study the interaction of biodiversity and try to promote the positive ones", lists De Lamo, who adds: "It is about putting value on what we have."

What is being done this last quarter of the year is clearing the land to be able to start planting vines at the beginning of 2023 in this first phase, which will be carried out on about five hectares. «The farm gives a lot of play. We have different heights and orientations, which will allow us to carry out different tests and study, for example, how to mitigate the effects of climate change », he describes.

The project contemplates different lines of action. One of them is a clonal selection field from centenary Priorat vineyards, to evaluate them. They are specimens that have shown adaptation to drought, tolerance to pests and good productive quality and, with these clones, it is intended to promote the planting of material originating in the region, reducing the loss of native biodiversity. Another line would be to implant a field with pre-phylloxera varieties, another with foreign varieties adapted to extreme climatic conditions and also experiment with the reduction of phytosanitary and fungicides. There will also be farms to study the behavior according to orientation and height with varieties typical of the region. In addition, functional biodiversity will be studied.

The experimental farm will be managed by Vitec, but the activity is part of the collaboration agreement for the creation of the 4VI Alliance between the Agri-Food Research and Technology Institute, the Catalan Vine and Wine Institute, the URV and Vitec.

From a 15th century farmhouse to modernism and noucentisme

Mas Roger has been documented since the 15th century, although its current appearance dates from the early 20th century, when the Vidal Llecha family from Reus expanded and remodeled it, in a modernist and noucentista style. To the constructive and decorative elements of value are added the witnesses of the activities of the region, with an oil mill or winery. The farmhouse is also a well of culture and history, a reflection of the former owners of the farmhouse: the Vidal Llechas. It was Josep and Pilar who transmitted this passion to their children: Miquel (pharmacist) and Josep (lawyer). When the Generalitat acquired 80% of the set in 2007, a library was located with more than 5,000 copies, as well as 2,014 pianola rolls.

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