José and Gloria Ferrer of the family-owned Freixenet.
When José and Gloria Ferrer are honored with Southern Wine & Spirits’ Lifetime Achievement Award at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival on February 21-24, you can bet they’ll celebrate with the help of a certain iconic Black Bottle of Bubbly
José and Gloria Ferrer are the patriarch and matriarch of family-owned Freixenet, the firm whose signature black bottle of Cordon Negro Cava has made it the ninth largest wine company in the world. Under their guidance, Freixenet has become the dominant exporter of cava—Spain’s méthode champenoise sparkling wine—selling over 200 million bottles a year and expanding to own wineries in Mexico, France, Argentina and Australia, as well as Spain and California.
José, who took the Freixenet reigns from his mother, was instrumental in building the brand into the powerhouse that it is today. Although the company struggled to survive during the Spanish Civil War and World War II, under José’s careful hand Freixenet was producing a million bottles of wine a year during the 1960s. By the 1980s, Freixenet had exploded into the North American wine market, exporting cava by the boatload, as well as opening the Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards in Sonoma’s Carneros region, now also a successful winery.
The Ferrers’ accomplishments helped open the door for other Spanish wineries to expand into the international market, a fact that José humbly accepts. “To have been on the forefront of the evolution of the Spanish wine industry and, in particular, its growth in the U.S. has been tremendous,” he says. “And to be recognized by the industry to which I have dedicated so much of my life is an undeniable honor.”
“I want to express my sincere congratulations to the Ferrers for a most well-deserved award,” says Mel Dick, Senior Vice President of Southern Wine & Spirits of America. “They have contributed so much to our industry and the fact that the family continues to run the business says so much about its future success as well.”
Today, the Ferrers and Freixenet continue to thrive as a family-operated winery, with José and his three sisters, Dolores, Pilar and Carmen, and Gloria’s son, Pedro, at the helm. Although José and Gloria (who have been married for more than 50 years) are semi-retired, they are determined to emphasize the importance of family to Freixenet’s success. They keep a home above the Freixenet winery in Spain’s Penedès region, where they can ensure that the familial connection is maintained and passed on to future generations.
“Before we even did business with them, José and Gloria welcomed me into their home, just knowing I was someone in the industry from the U.S.,” offers Ted Simpkins, Executive Vice President of SW&S of California. Their hospitality and genuineness reflects a world-class attitude about business, but also about how to treat your family and your fellow man.”
Freixenet may be one of the largest companies in the wine companies in the world, but according to José, “at its core, family is what our business is all about.”