Saturday, 6 October 2018

6.10.18 Growers´Plea for Fair Grape Prices

While there is much talk of the “Sherry Revolution”; a renewed interest in the wines of Jerez, recuperation of its prestige and increase in value, it has not filtered down to the independent growers who have suffered a decade of unprofitable grape prices, meaning they cannot afford replanting and their equipment is obsolete. There is also much talk about returning to the importance of the vineyard, but again it doesn´t affect the growers.

Their reresentative body, Asevi, has issued a plea for help from the trade in general and the bodegas in particular to increase the price of grapes which is the lowest in Spain at just 36 céntimos the kilo, which they say is a shameful price for the oldest Denomination of Origin and Consejo Regulador in Spain. According to a table of prices they have created, a kilo of Palomino costs 1 euro the kilo in Galicia (where it is known as Jerez or Listán), and other varieties in other DOs are priced anywhere from 40% to 270% higher. Even in Montilla the grapes cost more.

Growers representatives at a press conference yesterday (foto:MAGonzalez diariodejerez)

If things remain the same, the already desperate and disillusioned growers will simply disappear and with them, probably all but the 2,500 hectares of vineyard owned by the bodegas, and that has some worrying implications. In recent times no young people have become growers for the Sherry trade as they can only see extremely hard work for no profit. Rather they are getting involved with the thriving table wine industry where they can sell wine at a far more sensible price.

The root cause of the growers´problems dates back a decade to when the bodegas had plenty of stock and were able to pressurise the growers, and this was made worse by the Spanish competition commission which refused to allow prices to be negotiated sectorially. However as the growers point out this did not mean they should be below cost. But the bodegas have the upper hand and the growers´only choice is to sell their grapes, or throw them away and retire. This situation is completely unsustainable.

 Meanwhile the Association of Artisan Bodegas of Sanlúcar has been particularly critical of the Consejo Regulador after its recent announcement of a further fall in sales, especially in the BOB market, questioning its communication strategy: “if sales go down, something is being badly done” and accusing it of complacency. They say that the sale of more expensive wines is nowhere near enough to compensate for the loss of volume sales, and that you can´t focus promotion only in expensive restaurants as, while that does bring great prestige, you can´t afford to forget young people and the middle class. If so, more bodegas will disappear and those which survive will be the ones which depend more on other products such as table wines and spirits.

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