The Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar has issued a communiqué in which they outline their position in the BIB conflict, question the legality of the proposal to modify the regulations, and call for dialogue at the Consejo. After the Junta said BIB could be legal if it was sold only to horeca (hotel, restaurant, catering), the Consejo change the rules, prompting the association to pose a few questions.
Firstly they point out that they had “right from the start tried to maintain dialogue with the Consejo in the belief that what they were doing was legal. The dialogue was kept up with growers, cooperatives etc, but Fedejerez refused to talk”. According to the association the Junta’s report “confirmed that what they were doing was right and legal and that consequently BIB is perfectly legal for certain types of sale such as horeca”.
They also complain that “members of the Consejo did not know about the Junta’s report till the very moment the plenary began on Tuesday, at which Fedejerez produced their proposal to modify the rules to prohibit BIB, which is absolutely legal, even now”. Representatives of the association held a meeting with the Consejo Director 24 hours before the plenary at which “we asked how it was possible that a proposal to modify the rules could be presented when nobody would see the Junta’s report till the start of the plenary. Given that the presentation of the proposal was manifestly irregular, we asked that it be withdrawn”.
The answer was “no” and the proposal remained on the agenda, so at the end of the meeting the association’s representatives gave him a note which “confirmed the irregularities being committed in case the matter were put to a vote. At no time did the association try to coerce or restrict the rights of members of the plenary, but only make them aware via the report that this was an irregular proposal, unjustified, illegal and from a dominant position.” The association says that the Sherry zone needs dialogue and innovative proposals to reactivate things and put an end to the “bodega cemetery” image which has arisen over recent years, and all that is a consequence of conservative policies and a concentration of power to the detriment of the sector as a whole.
The association admits that their “sales as a percentage of the whole DO are small but we represent 80% of the Manzanilla bodegas of Sanlúcar, and quality cannot be measured in terms of scale, but by the artisan process. Members of our association were never rebels but acted reasonably, and that reason was supported by the Junta, and now there are attempts to deny it to us.”
Finally they call for dialogue, “we are all the Consejo Regulador and reason is not a question of taste or preference, especially when the image of quality for the consumer should be the contents, not the packaging, and we fulfil that.”