How Freixenet got started
Freixenet was born from the union of two Spanish families with a lengthy history in winemaking: the Ferrers, owners of La Freixeneda, a 12th-century farming estate in Sant Quinti de Mediona in the heart of Alt Penedes, and the Salas, winemakers since 1830 and the founders of Casa Sala, a wine exporter to Latin America, in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia.
Toward the end of the 19th century, Dolores Sala Vive, the granddaughter of the founder of Casa Sala, married Pedro Ferrer Bosch of La Freixeneda. This era saw the gradual loss of Spain's colonies and grape production diminishing due to the phylloxera plague that had destroyed grapevines across Europe. As a result, the newlyweds joined forces with Dolores' father to switch the focus of the Sala family business to sparkling wines made under the traditional method, or methode Champenoise..
In 1915 they began selling their products with the Freixenet name as a nod to the nickname given to Pedro Ferrer by the locals. Capitalizing on their initial successes, they built new cellars in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia in order to make higher quality wines and boost production capacity.
Freixenet began expanding abroad at the close of World War I. The Ferrers and the Salas formed a great winemaking team. Dolores Sala, an exceptional woman for her time, was extraordinarily knowledgeable in winemaking, and was as capable of leading wine tastings as she was of managing the business, which allowed Pedro Ferrer to concentrate on tireless promotion of the Freixenet brand, even establishing a branch office in New Jersey to introduce the bubbly of Sant Sadurni to the United States. However, this endeavor met with delays due to events in Europe over the next ten years.
Freixenet has always produced its wines from its own vineyards, replanted after the spread of phylloxera with the Macabeo, Xarelo and Parellada white grape varietals most suitable for making sparkling wines, a process which has always been - and continues to be - carried out in strict adherence to the traditional method developed in France's Champagne region. Freixenet has also constantly expanded its vineyards while complementing estate production with purchases from other growers. Currently more than 2000 growers supply their grapes, grown to Freixenet's exacting specifications.
Fifty years later, the drive to open Freixenet's business to the world led to impressive success in exports. By 1985, this small and courageous company had become the world's leading producer of top-quality sparkling wines without ever losing its family-based character, which is being continued by the founders' descendants.
In the 1960s, Freixenet was producing close to one million bottles, and the company's chief executive was Jose Ferrer Sala, a charismatic man who launched an unstoppable expansion with tireless energy and a firm faith in the future of Spanish sparkling wines. His decisive performance at the helm of Freixenet won him the respect of his peers. His successor and nephew, Jose Luis Bonet Ferrer, joined Freixenet toward the end of the sixties, and together they continued the task of expansion. By 2000, total production for the group exceeded 200 million bottles, accounting for over half of all Spanish sparkling wine production and 80% of exports.
The Freixenet Group is made up of companies located in various winemaking regions of the world and a broad network of distributors all over the globe. It focuses mainly on the production of sparkling wines under the traditional method, in which it ranks number one internationally. It is also Spain's top beverage exporter, with a presence in 150 countries. It is now a transnational firm with operations in all the major regions of the world that make sparkling wines under the traditional method, and in all the regions of the world that are revered for quality still wines. And all the while, it has kept its family-owned character while remaining faithful to its roots with utmost respect for tradition while focusing obsessively on constant quality improvement, innovation, and progress.
The Freixenet Group
With just over 100 years of history under its belt, the family-owned house of Freixenet has become a leader in the global market. And while Spanish sparkling wine, or cava, remains Freixenet's flagship product, the Group is also involved in the production of high-quality still wines, thus transcending the borders of Penedes and asserting its presence in other winemaking regions of Spain and other countries of the world.
Currently, traditional production of cava is centered on Freixenet, Castellblanch, Segura Viudas, Conde de Caralt and Canals & Nubiola, all venerable old brands of renowned quality. In California's Sonoma Valley, Jose Ferrer succeeded in achieving his father's cherished dream of establishing a winery in the United States, planting vines and building cellars launched in 1986 and christened with the name of Gloria Ferrer, Jose Ferrer's wife. In 1985, Freixenet bought Maison Henri Abele in Reims, France. Founded in 1757, Maison Henri Abele is the Champagne region's third oldest winery. In the state of Queretaro, Mexico, a place that offers ideal geo-climatic conditions for grape cultivation despite the absence of a winemaking tradition, Freixenet built the Sala Vive winery, named after the foundress of Freixenet.
Freixenet has also expanded its production of quality still wines in the major winemaking regions of the world: Penedes, Ribera del Duero, Rias Baixas, Priorat, Montsant and Rioja, Spain; Sonoma Valley, California; Coonawarra, Australia; and Bordeaux, France, where in 2001 Freixenet purchased the hundred-year-old negociant Yvon Mau, with more than 4,000 references and a presence in 150 countries. Freixenet's latest New World acquisition is in Mendoza, Argentina.