This is the second entry in a series we’ve dedicated to the grape harvest in the Rioja Alavesa. In the first part of this series, we covered why we chose the Samaniego family bodega Bodegas Ostatu, as a role model to discuss what it is and what happens in the Rioja Alavesa.
After that overview, which we recommend you read, we’re dedicating this entry to covering, with video, the process of the grape harvest.
This Basque region, located at the southern tip of Araba, is in what we could call a critical moment. The opposition on the part of the Rioja Denomination of Origin (DOC Rioja), controlled by a majority of members from outside the Rioja Alavesa (the Rioja Alta and the Rioja Baja), to the producers of this region being able to clearly distinguish the origin of their products is giving rise to an uprising. In it, the DOC Rioja, its leaders, are even willing to change the rules of the game on the fly in order to prevent a thesis contrary to the interests of the producers that control it from rising triumphant.
Moreover, they’ve already pulled out the “evil Basque nationalist” card. With a simplistic view, which only convinces those who really don’t want to understand what’s going on, they accuse those who wish to distinguish themselves of wanting to do so purely for “political” reasons, despite the fact that it is obvious that all of this really boils down to economic matters.
The producers of the Rioja Alavesa region need for the consumer to understand that their wines are different, and that there is a very good reason why in the same Rioja section at the wine seller’s or supermarket, there is such a marked different in price between brands.
That difference is the one made by the craft production of wine verses the large-volume mass producers. And that’s why there’s a problem: there is a need to fight against this almost industrial producers in order to protect the smaller winemakers, who, if not protected, will undoubtedly disappear.
This situation has been widely covered by, for example, The Guardian, or by British wine guru Tim Atkin. It will be more difficult to find such a look in the media published in the vicinity, where the word is usually given to those who accuse others of doing what they do, disguising a social and economic problem as “simply political.”
That’s why we were so interested in explaining how a family winery works. If we don’t want our wine making areas to turn into investment properties for international private equity investment firms that are only interested in quarterly dividends, we must take care of our producers, and of the knowledge they have accumulated over centuries of winemaking.
(Video subtitled in English)