Thursday, 23 June 2016

23.6.16 Counter Offer for Garvey; Tio Pepe and the Guadalete; Possible Strike?

Just when Lucio Tan’s deal to purchase Garvey and Zoilo Ruiz Mateos required only signatures, Andrew Tan, who recently bought the old Domecq business, now Fundador, has presented a last minute offer. This offer is understood to be better than that of Lucio Tan which was for between 20-25 million euros, so we will now have to wait longer to find out the fate of Garvey, but it is certainly unusual to have people fighting over the purchase of a Sherry bodega. While they share a surname, these entrepreneurs and brandy magnates from the Philippines are not related.

The river Guadalete was used by the Phoenicians to transport goods. These great traders exported agricultural produce from the Marco de Jerez to their cities of Sidon and Tiro. Later, from the XVI century, the Sherry exporters did the same. Butts of wine were loaded onto carts in Jerez and taken to El Portal, the nearest point of the river to Jerez, and thence downstream to the coast at El Puerto de Santa María.  

It was backbreaking work, and in homage to this cultural and environmental history, on Tuesday González Byass staged “Travesía Tio Pepe Guadalete 2016”. Guests could follow this ancient route in a motorised inflatable dinghy and enjoy a glass of Sherry at each stop. At the end of the trip there was a lunch at El Faro. The journey began and ended in El Puerto with experts on hand explaining historical and environmental details such as the Trocadero, the wine quay and the railway.

Over time the river has silted up limiting its commercial use and leading to abandonment, and so it has become a bit of a wildlife reserve, and there are efforts underway to protect and enhance it. Towards the Bay of Cádiz there are old salt pans and the Castle of Doña Blanca. It is said that here, Pedro I “The Cruel” had his wife, Doña Blanca de Borbón murdered. Here also are important archaeological remains with evidence of wine production.

This initiative could have great commercial potential on a consistent basis rather than just a one-off annual event, and some of the money raised could go towards environmental conservation.

Fedejerez is meeting the vineyard unions today in the hope of preventing a possible strike scheduled for September, which would affect the end of the harvest and subsequent vineyard operations. Union sources say they are hopeful of better mutual understanding over pay after previous meetings proved fruitless, and have been cultivating political support stressing the importance of the vineyards to the local economy.

Workers say the bodegas want to reduce wages and keep them on temporary contracts, neither of which is conducive to stable employment. Five years ago they agreed to some hard bargaining to help keep the bodegas going during the crisis and themselves in a job, but now they say that the bodegas have not only survived but become stronger if their results and press releases are to be believed.

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