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View of the grape vintage works that have begun 12 August 2008 in Raimat, Lleida, Catalonia southeastern Spain.
The Chinese market is a priority for many Spanish firms.

Interview: Spanish wine looking to expand horizons, says expert

by 
12.05.2014 - 09:52

Exporting Spanish wine to China and looking to open up further new markets is a priority for the Spanish wine industry.

Pau Roca, general secretary of the Spanish Wine Federation (FEV) made that assertion during an interview he held with Xinhua at the FEV offices in Madrid.

"China is a priority for us," said Roca, adding the country was a priority because it was the "the first eastern country which has opened to the market."

"We have seen a certain adaptation to western customs and increased interest in our product and this could be very important in the future for us," he explained.

Roca explained that the other countries such as India were also interesting markets that Spain was looking to develop for its wines, explaining that one of the problems with the wine market is that there are "very few players and so the introduction of a new player is very important."

He was speaking to Xinhua in the wake of data published by the Spanish Fund of Agrarian Guarantees, which is managed by the country's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment.

The fund estimated that the 2013-2014 grape harvest saw Spain produce a total of 52.6 million hectoliters of wine and grape juice.

This figure confirms Spain as the biggest wine producer in the world, with higher production than France (42.3 million hectoliters) and Italy (44.9 million hectoliters).

"This is a question of development, of investigation. The crops are not always the same, vines have a lifespan, some varieties are substituted by others and the techniques also improve," said Roca, who believes Spain has made progress from 20 years ago when the country produced vast quantities of table wine.

Spain has always had renounced wine growing regions, such as la Rioja or the Ribera del Duero, but recent years have seen regions such as Priorat, Rueda, Aragon and many others start to produce high quality wines.

"The wine culture in Spain has improved," explained Roca. "In Spain, there is great knowledge on how to direct the vineyard and as well as the natural conditions."

"We have people who are very well prepared both in cultivating wine and enology and this has given us some magnificent wines which are in the market all over the world," he said.

Roca said he believes Spain makes the best wine in the World, but also knows that this is not enough unless it reaches the marketplace.

"We need to work at distribution because we can't just wait for clients to come and buy our products," he explained, highlighting that this work needs to be done in more than just traditional outlets.

"We need to not only work with supermarkets and specialist shops, but also with restaurants, because a lot of wine drinking is 'on-trade' where it is enjoyed in the place where it is bought," he said.

That involves working with restaurants and wine bars, as well as speaking to chefs, restaurant owners and critics in order to get Spanish wine a place on menus all over the world, including China.