The reopening of bars and restaurants has reactivated the sale of wine bottles that until a few days ago only raised dust in the cellars. The sector, the winemakers, small and medium-sized brands and large corporations observe the arrival of summer with moderate optimism. If nothing goes wrong, if the de-escalation is carried out successfully, wine sales will increase, if only to celebrate the return to the desired normality.
The spring months have been disastrous. In Andalusia the sector comes from a few months of free fall. From the Denominations of Origin of Montilla-Moriles and Marco de Jerez, wine growers lament the loss of sales in March, April and May, the period of greatest commercial output. The reason must be sought in the cancellation of the spring festivals, in the pilgrimages and in the fairs that these months dot Andalusian geography. Losses, according to agrarian organizations such as Asaja, exceed thirty-ci
nco percent. This data also coincides with that offered by the Spanish Wine Federation whose managers assure that the turnover of the wineries has fallen by nearly forty percent.
A survey carried out a few weeks ago by the FEV shows worrying data. 96 percent of the wineries consulted consider that the health crisis has seriously affected their business. The data collected these months by professional organizations show two apparently contradictory data: Personal consumption and online commerce have increased by twenty percent, but at the same time sales to bars, restaurants and hotels have fallen completely, one of the main sources of business for wineries. Losses in the latter segment did not offset gains in private consumption.
Jerez-based winery owner Helena Rivero , at the head of Tradition , assures that the pandemic has reduced sales of its premium wines, among the most coveted in Marco de Jerez. "We were coming from a complicated situation," recalls Helena Rivero. "The American market had restricted imports and the European market was already showing signs of weakening. And in the midst of that the pandemic implodes." The head of Tradition wineries and one of the great art collectors in Spain remembers how her sales fell completely after the outbreak of the health crisis. Forced to apply for an erte the situation changed in the middle of last month when they received two important requests from England and Germany that forced part of the staff to rejoin. Tradition wines have their most loyal fans on the international market. More than eighty percent of the visitors to the Tradition museum winery are foreigners. Rivero believes that this market will be resentful, but says he is not willing to let the visit lose the charm it has always had: "When someone enters Tradition, they must forget the problems that are outside and immerse themselves in the world of the best wines. In addition, and although we do not have scientific certainty, the evaporation of the alcohol from the wine makes us walk in a hydrogel, "he smiles.
Entredichos is the brand of one of the best Spanish wines. In front of the winery, which has its vines in the Sierra de Segura , is the winemaker Pedro Olivares. Its sales have dropped seventy percent from the same period last year. Its wines have ceased to be present in restaurants and gourmet stores, its main customers, due to the pandemic closure. In contrast, online sales grew 90 percent. But like most of the Spanish wineries, the increase in internet sales has not balanced the large losses in their traditional niche markets. Olivares ensures that this upcoming campaign looks good both in quality and quantity. "Christmas can be a good alternative to save the year," he says. "There is a high bottled stock whose quality does not worry me because it wins over time . But there are wines that are ready to be bottled and as a consequence of the decrease in demand they take up space and fill tanks," he adds. "Having a high stock in a small winery is a problem because that volume of space is needed for fermentations and typical tasks of any campaign," he reports. "That will be what will determine the amount of grapes that enter the winery this fall," he concludes.
The Andalusian wine sector was experiencing a moment of apparent tranquility before the outbreak of the health crisis. Consumption had increased, the globalization of the markets had allowed the arrival of new customers and an increasing number of new wineries offered high quality products. The pandemic stopped the Spanish wine market dry. In Spain there are some forty-five thousand wine companies , mostly wineries. The large wine business groups represent one percent of that total and bill seventy-five percent of the wine consumed in Spain. Large groups have been the ones that have felt the effects of the crisis the most. But also the small and medium-sized wineries that had opened in the last ten years and that sought from quality, proximity, online commerce and word of mouth their own niche.
According to the Interprofessional Organization of Wine of Spain, it is necessary to look back at the internal market. It's time to switch from macroeconomics to microeconomics, experts warn. Some studies assure that Spanish wine exports to the international market will suffer in the coming months, so it is necessary to look for new business routes in the domestic market.
Not only the olive sector is in crisis. The interprofessional of the wine has asked these days to the minister of Agriculture Luis Planas an extraordinary package of measures that clear the clouds that hang over the sector. One hundred days after the start of the harvest, just over three months after the return to the vines, the sector asks the European Union and the Government of Spain for financial aid to cover the losses that have occurred in the last two months. "The production of the last campaign has not come out when we are at the gates of another," warn those responsible. In a statement the sector asks to be present in the reconstruction policies that are being designed in the so-called Horeca channel (hotels and restaurants) and in the tourism segment.
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