12-01-2015

It’s impossible for the little cellar in Spain

vines

If you haven’t seen it, there’s a very good read by Jancis Robinson about how the marketing shift for European Union wine funds is towards promotion in the Asian markets. Of special note in regards to Spain is the following quote:

The country that had the most money to spend last year, €353 million euros, was Spain, although the EU censured Spain for giving far too high a proportion of funds, 88%, to six big companies that already had a presence on distant export markets. The whole point of this initiative is to make life easier for small and medium-sized companies.

For an American winery and probably even an American reader, this amount of money, doled out by the government to promote private initiatives seems ludicrous as private wineries promote themselves with their own private money. Or at most, they band together to promote say Paso Robles or Finger Lakes as a region. That’s how you do it. You spend what you can out of your own budget to then earn this money back through foreign sales. Seems pretty simple.

This money, which is actually 1.15€ billion in total is ludicrous as the entire export market is 8.6€ billion and thus they’re spending nearly 14% of what is being made to promote wines that in reality most producers have already been promoting as shown by these “big six” in Spain who took their lion’s share of the money to do who knows what with. And this is problem with being a small winemaker (essentially anyone making less than 100,000 bottles a year) in that you’re just not going to get access to that money whereas someone like Torres (who I presume was one of the six as they’re gigantic) has full time staff dedicated to hunting down these funds, applying, receiving, and thus growing more. Why they don’t have the wineries apply through their respective denominations of origin is beyond me as what they really need to be doing are promoting specific regions as opposed to specific wineries.

As an American who is more accustomed to the “boot strap” approach to business the only real solution I see is to cut all of this money off given that if you read the article you’ll see that France and Italy aren’t really any better than Spain. Large companies see free money and they do what it takes to get it because it’s there for that. Amazingly, despite these failures they’ve actually been increasing this fund over the years as it seems that one of the few things people still want out of Europe besides visiting old shit are the wines, so again, many thanks to the Romans.