The cork wine stopper is synonymous with preservation – not only of the wine in the bottle but of a way of life for cork farmers and the natural ecosystem of the forest. The process has been the same for generations because the system is a sustainable network benefiting the local economy, the environment, and the industries that utilize cork – particularly the wine industry.
Cork grows naturally in only two areas of the world: the Mediterranean region of Europe – particularly the Iberian Peninsula, where Portugal and Spain produce more than 80% of the world’s cork – and, Northwest Africa.
Los Alcornocales Natural Park – a name that literally means “the cork oak grove” – is the largest mass of cork oak on the Iberian Peninsula, and the cork woodlands are home to rich biodiversity including endangered species such as the Iberian lynx, Iberian imperial eagle, and other rare birds. A stunning array of ferns, fungi, and other plants call these forests home alongside the cork oak trees, which can grow to more than 65 feet tall and provide shelter for the creatures that thrive here.
For most forest ecosystems, the word “harvest” signals threat. But a cork harvest isn’t typical of forestry because the tree itself isn’t cut down. In fact, there is no harm to the tree thanks to the cork oak’s unique ability to regenerate outer bark (the layer we know as cork) and the mastery of the farmers. There’s no deforestation, no heavy machines, and no industrial complex – rather a sustainable way of the life that retains nature’s bounty.