In an article by James Badcock, the British daily The Telegraph explains what is happening in the La Rioja DOC. We already blogged about it a couple of weeks ago, covering the key matters to understanding what is happening between some of the producers covered by the DOC and what might end up destroying the current leadership of the La Rioja DOC if it doesn’t change its ways, as some of those same producers might end up leaving.
We have to start by admitting that we really don’t like the title, for two reasons. First, because we believe that this is a matter that only affects the producers of a specific part of this DOC, and secondly, because we would say that the problem is rather the opposite: the inability of the leadership to be flexible and to recognize that the realities that exist within the Rioja DOC are what are causing these wineries that feel that can create a more personalized product to feel they’re being pushed away.
We’re surprised by how the directors of the Rioja DOC argue that the main force behind these demands and decisions is “politics”, especially when it would be much easier, and more fair, to recognize that what is occurring is a consequence of their inability to meet the demands of this part of their membership, and their dependence on the interests of the large companies that control the majority of the productions (and what to enlarge it).
We can see this clearly in the statements, quoted in The Telegraph article, made by the director of one of the largest wineries in La Rioja. In summary, his business model is based on producing a large quantity of wine with small margins, a model that only works for large companies with economies of scale. This means that they want to make the wine and buy the grapes from the owners of the vines at the best possible price.
This big business model of being the only producers of wine and the only buyers of DOC Rioja grapes is being broken up by a myriad of small producers of quality, personalized, distinct wines.
The Telegraph – 1/2/2016 – Great Britain
Rioja war as Basque vintners launch bid for independence
The latest separatist movement in Spain is not led by a political party, but Basque winemakers in the world-renowned region of La Rioja. Last year leading Spanish winemaker Juan Carlos López de Lacalle quit the wine regulator in the region of DOC Rioja – and other small producers might follow his lead. Mr López de Lacalle, based on the Artadi vineyard in Álava, part of the Basque region, argued that unlike top French winemaking regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux, Rioja’s board of control did not allow producers to label their wines with locally specific certification of origin.