Vicente Flors – Passion Meets Persistence

Vicente Flors – Passion Meets Persistence

In the fall of 2000, Vicente Flors was 50 years old and in the midst of a successful banking career when he took a week long wine tasting course.   On the final day of class, feeling inspired and sipping wine with his classmates, he proclaimed, “I’m going to make my own wine next year!”  Like many of us would after imbibing a few more than the doctor advises, Vicente didn’t think much of his statement and forgot about it.  One of his fellow students however, made a mental note and that following summer, reminded him that he needed to get started.  So he did.

Luckily, while Flors had never worked in the wine industry, he was not exactly starting his venture from nothing.  Flors’ family had started producing wine in the Les Useres area of Castellón at the beginning of the 19th century, a business which had been passed from one generation to the next, until 1980, when Vincente’s mother decided to close its doors.  While the bodega was no longer producing it’s own wine, the vineyards were still operational, selling bulk juice to local communes.  Thus, when Vicente Flors was reminded of his bold aspirations to start making wine, he did at least have a plot of land still planted with 60-70 year old vines of Tempranillo, and an old building, albeit mostly in ruins, to work with.

Towards the end of the summer of 2001, Vicente started cleaning up the bodega, and gathering the bare necessities to start production.  That fall, with little to no knowledge of the wine making process, Flors and some friends met at the vineyard to harvest grapes.  “There were two groups” says Vicente, “one stomping the grapes, and the other making a paella.”

“There were two groups” says Vicente, “one stomping the grapes, and the other making a paella.”

As romantic as that sounds, one can imagine, that the wine was not an instant success.  In fact, one of Vicente’s neighbors tried the developing wine from a barrel, and told him he’d better start growing lettuce.  Not deterred, Vicente took a few bottles of the finished product to some local winemakers.  While the wine was not good, they saw potential, and commented on the wine’s deep color.  They even asked if they could visit the bodega to see the vineyards that had produced the fruit.  At that moment, Flors knew he had something.

Wines by Bodega Flors

Wines by Bodega Flors

For the next six years, Vicente Flors worked at his craft, referencing a book on grape growing.   Little by little, he got better, but something was still wrong.  Then, it clicked.  The book he had been referencing was written by a French winemaker, applying concepts for growing grapes in French soil, in a French climate.   Upon this realization Flors turned his attention again to his neighbors, and started visiting other established bodegas that had a similar terroir.  His criteria were simple.  “The bodega could produce no more than 100,000 bottles, and they had to have a bottle that sold for 50 euros.”   For the next few years, Vicente followed their lead, mimicking the steps that he observed, often without knowing why.  Quality surged and again, he was on to something.

By the year 2007, Vicente was producing enough quality wine that he decided he could retire from banking, and focus solely on Bodega Flors.   Never quite satisfied with his progress, he brought on consultants to assist with the winemaking.  Their style, and use of additives however, didn’t jive with Flors’, who by now had developed a no-compromise approach to natural, non-interventionist winemaking.  “The wine is made in the field, not in the bodega,” he says.  So in 2009 at age 58, the retired Vicente Flors went back to University to study Oenology.

“…wine is made in the field, not in the bodega.”

Flors was only halfway through his program when he noticed a significant change in quality.  He had been a do-it-yourself winemaker from the start, and it had seemed that each step of his evolution had now culminated into a world class product.   With the addition of a little ‘dumb’ luck, his wines began to get some real attention, when a local cable channel ran a special on the winery.  The channel was losing money however, and stopped filming new pieces shortly thereafter.   To fill airtime, they started rerunning the same programs.  Bodega Flors’ special ran repeatedly for months, and chefs and sommeliers took notice.  Sales increased, and it wasn’t long before the accolades followed, including silver and gold medals in 2013  from the Association of Sommeliers of Castellón (ASUCAP).


Today, Bodega Flors shines in all the artisinal glory that it deserves.  Rows of 70 year old vines of Tempranillo and Monastrell, have been augmented by the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha.  The 19th century bodega has been renovated, and houses a charming tasting room, a small museum, and a terrace overlooking the vineyards.   While still relatively obscure, Flors’ wines are served in some of the best restaurants in Valencia, including Lienzo and Casa Montaña.   The flagship Clotás, a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, is a big, elegant red, with a maceration period of 18 days, and left unfiltered for maximum color and flavor before barrel aging in American and French oak for 16 months.  The result is a wine with intense ruby color, with notes of ripe red and black cherries, cinnamon and clove on the nose, and ripe fruit flavors with a  touch of chocolate and coffee on the palate.   The rest of the portfolio is equally strong, with a fresher, Flor de Clotás, which is 100% Tempranillo, and a powerhouse Monastrell.  A trip to Castellón is a worthwhile experience, and if you’re lucky, you may even be able to snag a bottle of the sweet yet very rare Dolcet de Clotás.  Note that at this time of this article, there is none of the 2013 left on the shelves.

Lofty proclamations aside, the rise of Vicente Flors has been slow and steady…or as we say in Spain, poco a poco.   His story is the kind of tale that we like to teach our kids.  Follow your dreams, do what you love, and believe in yourself.  His evolution from hobbyist to award winning professional, while seemingly unlikely, is an inspiration for all of us– and that is not just my wine talking.

Read more about Bodega Vicente Flors.






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