While countless articles have been written and titled something like Why [Insert Wine Region] Maybe the new Napa Valley, it is obvious to even the most casual observer that, for better or for worse, whatever region is covered, it does not even have the slightest chance of being mistaken for the famous California AVA . However, thanks to a unique partnership between the Raimat Arts Festival and the Napa Valley Festival, locals and visitors can enjoy a little taste of Napa in Lleida, Spain this October.
The brainchild of Elena de Carandini Raventós, the Raimat Arts Festival is an initiative launched by her community foundation Raimat Lleida, which aims to create a sustainable social, environmental and economic impact in the region thanks to funds raised by the Arts Festival and other programs. . The first edition of the festival, which will be held on October 14and at 16and of this year, is inspired by the Napa Valley Festival and will bring together wine, art and gastronomy. As part of the cooperation between the two festivals, Raimat and Lleida will present and offer premium local products at this year’s Napa Valley Festival. At Raimat, Napa Valley will offer a selection of food and wine to guests.
The event will center on the historic Castillo de Raymat, a restored 12and century castle that is now 100% owned by de Carandini Raventós. It was acquired by his great-grandfather Manuel Raventós in 1914; his vision was to transform the surrounding region, then a desert, into an agricultural and wine region. Today, the chateau sits among 7,413 acres of its own 100% organic vineyards and those of 35 neighboring wineries in the DO Costers del Segre. Castillo de Raimat was once owned by Raventós-Codorniu and its business partner, Carlyle Group
Inspired by the Napa Valley Festival and her charitable efforts within her own community, de Carandini Raventós created the Raimat Lleida Community Foundation and the Raimat Arts Festival to support the small village of Raimat, which was first built by his great-grandfather to house local workers and the greater Lleida region. About a two-hour drive from Barcelona, Raimat is also not too far from its sister winery, Codorniu, Spain’s oldest cava producer.
We had the opportunity to speak with Elena de Carandini Raventós about her foundation, the Raimat Arts Festival and how she became the owner of a castle.
World Wine Guys: What initiatives will the Raimat Lleida Community Foundation support?
Elena by Carandini Raventos: Raimat Lleida CF focuses on four areas: social action, culture, innovation, biodiversity and climate change. Social action is articulated in collaboration with the United Way Foundation and its objective is to support third sector entities and vulnerable groups in Raimat and Lleida through the creation of an annual program of long-term grants with special emphasis on training, innovation and digitalisation.
In the cultural field, this year the RLCF will promote the celebration of the first edition of the Raimat Arts Festival, a unique and pioneering initiative that presents itself as a multi-sensory artistic experience with a transformative vocation. It will bring together… internationally renowned chamber musicians; local, regional and international cuisine; and pairings with organic wine. The income generated by the festival will go entirely to the development of the foundation’s social projects. Raimat Arts Festival not only aims to support the Raimat Lleida Foundation, it also serves as a sister festival to the renowned Napa Valley Festival, which has become an international benchmark for unparalleled artistic performance combined with positive social impact.
The relaunch of the sustainable economy revolves around Raimat LAB, an innovation platform designed to support companies and start-ups that wish to work on the triple impact and generate social, economic and environmental benefits.
Through Raimat Natura and in collaboration with the Raimat winery, the foundation is working on its commitment to the dissemination and implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals through its biodiversity support program and of combating climate change.
WWG: How did your partnership with Festival Napa Valley come about?
EdCR: It happened very naturally. I interned for a few months at Artesa Winery in Napa a long time ago and fell in love with the place, the scenery, the people and the food. And I went back several times with my family to show them. It’s not just about the region, which is absolutely beautiful, but also about the festival program… and its social purpose. It is truly an inspiration, and we share the same values.
When the Raimat Lleida Foundation was formed, we dreamed of a great event to make the region of Raimat and Lleida better known, nationally and internationally, and the Napa Valley Festival was the perfect “brother” to admire.
Napa Valley Festival Executive Producer Charles Letourneau and BBMG Founding Partner Raphael Bemporad were so enthusiastic and helpful from the start of our festival. I have only words of gratitude for them. They guided us on how to create this event, which artists could be interesting performers, et cetera. They are the dream team to partner with on this adventure.
In addition, this collaboration will be made visible at both festivals. At the Napa Valley Festival, during the “Taste of Napa” day, Raimat and Lleida will present and offer premium local products. In Raimat, Napa will also have a similar presentation.
WWG: What can visitors to the first Raimat Arts Festival expect in October?
EdCR: The Raimat Arts Festival will take place from October 14 to 16, 2022. The festival will open on October 14and with a private launch event for founding sponsors and supporting institutions, followed by public programs on the 15thand and 16and.
On Saturday October 15, we will begin with a walking tour through the Raimat Natura reserve, incorporating visual arts installations and performances by local artists integrated into the landscape. The walking tour will end in the village of Raimat.
Then, participants will be able to take part in a food and wine fair with wine tastings and gastronomic workshops from local restaurateurs and suppliers that will take place around the Château de Raymat. The event will be animated by performances by young musicians from the Lleida Conservatory. (Although the name of the village and the winery are spelled Raimat, the castle uses the original name, Raymat. The differences are attributed to spellings in Castilian and Catalan as well as the translation of the castle’s original Arabic name.)
In the evening, the Raimat cellar will host the main event of the Festival: an intimate concert with internationally renowned artists including guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas, lyric soprano Serena Saenz, violinist Francisco Fullana and cellist Sophia Bacelar. They will perform works by renowned composers from Lleida, Catalonia and Spain, such as Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados or Manuel de Falla, among others.
The festival will end on Sunday, October 16 with a festive brunch offering a unique menu of local specialties.
WWG: Will Castillo de Raymat be used for events during the festival?
EdCR: In effect. Sponsors, partners and VIP guests will enjoy a private dinner with a performance by the festival soloists on Friday evening at the castle. In addition to this, the food and wine fair will take place on the grounds of the castle with a breathtaking view of the village of Raimat and the vineyards.
Our goal is to make the castle the central place where impact projects come to life. That’s why we are happy to use it for private meetings, corporate meetings, recordings and photo shoots. My intention is for the castle to be an asset to help generate income to invest in the foundation’s projects.
WWG: Can you explain to us how and why you personally became the owner of the Castillo?
EdCR: Raymat Castle is a 12th century building located in the village of Raimat and it was declared a “Cultural Asset of National Interest” many years ago. It is the only testimony of the antiquity of the village.
My great-grandfather, Manuel Raventós, acquired the castle in 1914, imagining a better future for the territory when it was still just a desert with a single tree. He cultivated the land and revitalized and repopulated the region, laying the foundation for its future prosperity. He then entrusted the management of the Raventós-Codorníu company to his sons and daughters, to devote himself to the transformation of Raimat, planting more than a million trees, raising animals and also rebuilding the castle. He even favored the construction of 100 houses for the workers, a school for the children, a church, a cooperative building to supply the community, water reservoirs, aqueducts, 150 km of roads, warehouses for grain and corrals and stables for animals.
The project grew from an agricultural colony to become the village of Raimat. Despite the initial difficulties, my great-grandfather managed to overcome them with great effort and tenacity and the help of his deeply committed team.
Raventós-Codorníu and then The Carlyle Group managed the castle for many years. I acquired it in January 2020, and it is now privately owned. In fact, on several occasions, we use it as a residence for our family. I live between Barcelona and Raimat, because it’s very close, and I stay at the castle when I’m there, but my main objective is to open its doors to initiatives that bring value to the community.