“Puri, you can leave with your head held high for the work you’ve done”

Face-to-face interview with the most senior and the youngest member of the team. Puri, in charge of Visual Quality, is retiring this year, and Bàrbara, who works in the Operations and Procurement Department, is eager to travel

June 2024

Puri Rivera (PR) and Bàrbara Giné (BG) are the most senior and the youngest member of the team, respectively. Talking to them, I learn that this is not the only thing that connects them; they are also family: Puri’s mother-in-law was the sister of Bàrbara’s great-grandmother, something they discovered one day over coffee in the canteen…

Puri is retiring this year, and Bàrbara is eager to travel, take on more responsibility, and continue learning in various areas of the company, while still contributing to the company and the team (if there’s any difference).


“I’ve spent my whole life here, all the ups and downs of my life, good and bad, and I’ve always had the support of the Vigas family when I needed something.”



How did you start at J·Vigas?

PR: I joined when I was 14, after finishing school, because my older sister was already working here. I’ve spent my whole life here, all the ups and downs of my life, good and bad, and I’ve always had the support of the Vigas family when I needed something.

I started when the ‘avi’ [grandfather, in Catalan, and how Josep Vigas was known in his later years] was around, Enric was in the military, and Joan wasn’t here yet because he was very young. I learned a lot from Enric, he would ask me: “Which stoppers do you like best? What would you do with these stoppers, how would you classify them?”

And suddenly, one day, without realizing it, you know all the types and [the preferences of] the clients.

BG: I remember seeing the ‘avi’ in the office when I joined, already retired… I was 18, studying Administration and had to do some internship hours, so I started with administrative tasks in the lab, and when the internship ended, they offered me a position, so I studied in the mornings and worked here in the afternoons. I’ve been in different departments. From the lab, I moved to preparing orders and shipments.

In 2017, I did an Erasmus in England and when I came back, I moved to the purchasing and performance department.


Puri, if you had to give Bàrbara a piece of advice, what would you say?

PR: Advice…? Well, there’s not much advice I can give Bàrbara… I would say to keep doing what she’s doing because, as I’ve known her for many years, she’s shown me that she’s a very good person, hardworking…

I remember thinking when she was younger: ‘What a girl, so young and so mature…’ And we’ve always gotten along very well, although sometimes we’ve had small disagreements…

BG: It’s because Puri has a strong character! But it’s normal to have clashes, especially during peak work times, but well, we’ve always solved them immediately and without any problem.


And you, Bàrbara, what advice would you give Puri?

BG: I know she enjoys life, so I’m sure she will make the most of her retirement, and she should leave with her head held high for the work she’s done.

PR: Ah! That’s right, I’m proud of the work I’ve done…


Puri, you handle everything related to visual quality, now that you’re leaving, who will replace you?

PR: Agustina, because of her experience, she’s been with the company for 20 years and previously worked in the sector.


How do you see the future of the sector and the company?

BG: It’s a sector with a lot of variability, with very good years and others not so much. I think what Vigas has going for it is its many added values, which is why we’ve come this far. For example: customer service and procurement. We have a strong point in how we buy, we are very demanding.

Other companies our size have closed in recent years or have been bought by multinationals because they perhaps didn’t have these values…

PR: No matter what alternatives arise, I believe that quality natural cork stoppers, which is what we make here, will continue because good wines need this type of stopper…


“We have a strength in how we buy, we are very demanding”

Puri, how has the sector changed since you started, almost half a century ago?

When I arrived, it was very different. There were drilling machines, grinding machines, a sorting machine, three marking machines… It was just a factory, there were no salespeople, no lab… All that started when Enric and Joan took over in the late ’70s: the lab was established, they traveled, looked for clients, and growth began.

Do you think the general public cares about the stopper on a bottle of wine?

PR: People who know about wine do, but many people don’t notice the stopper when they order a wine…

BG: I think there is a lot of ignorance about the work behind a stopper. If I could, I would organize tours from start to finish explaining the whole process of making a stopper, from buying the cork to preparing it, all the controls and the customization done for each client.


What does customization mean?

PR: On one hand, you have the classes: Flor, Extra… but then within each class, there are clients! For example, they tell me: “Puri, you need to make this class for such-and-such winery,” so I already know how it should be, what that particular winery likes.


Would that be the most important value given to the client, the total customization of the order?

BG: Yes, because not only is there customization of the stopper class but also of the service, the client knows they have a direct service through SAC [Customer Service], from the moment they place the order until they receive the stoppers and afterwards they also have direct contact. It’s a very close relationship…

They can also do an annual follow-up, have any information they want about the stopper, about the company…


How would you define J·Vigas?

PR: Evolution, since I started, it has prospered a lot; perseverance, adapting to the times…

BG: Professionalism, innovation, because we are always up-to-date. The technical department is constantly looking for studies, projects… This is something the client values greatly. And personalization.


Finally, how would you convince an oenologist to buy Vigas stoppers?

BG: We have plenty of arguments, just by explaining the follow-up from start to finish and the care we put into both technical and visual aspects…

PR: I would tell them they can rest assured because the stopper won’t cause problems, there’s a lot of control.


J.VIGAS S.A · C/ Clavé 49-53 · 17200 Palafrugell, Girona · T: +34 972 300 737 · jvigas@jvigas.com
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