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The wine Industry
 

Wine made in the Basque region comes almost entirely from the area known as the Rioja Alavesa, one of the three districts (Navarra and La Rioja are the other two) in the official quality-guaranteed wine-growing zone of La Rioja. The Rioja Alavesa is justly celebrated for its fine wines, where a number of factors combine to raise quality levels, including the very favourable vineyard conditions, the predominant varieties of grape, particularly tempranillo, and a plethora of local social and economic circumstances associated with wine production. The Rioja Alavesa is today one of the most wine-intensive districts on the international scene.

There are some 12,700 hectares of vineyards in the Rioja Alavesa, equivalent to 20.5% of the total surface area devoted to the production of fine wines in the official La Rioja wine making area.

Sales of wine made in the Rioja Alavesa have managed to overcome the 2% fall in consumption in Spain, which absorbs some 70% of the area's production. One reason is its increasing share in foreign markets, with exports to European Union countries increasing to account for 30% of sales, at an average of more than 15 million litres a year, mainly to the United Kingdom and France. The industry is currently investigating new business opportunities in the United States and Japan and in the emerging markets in China.


The 200-plus winemaker firms in the southernmost part of the province of Alava produce a third of all the litres distributed under the official quota allowed for the La Rioja Denominación de Origen quality guarantee.

Together, the three production areas, i.e. Alava, La Rioja and Navarra, enjoyed growth of 6.3%, commercializing 251 million litres, an absolute record. The record for winemakers based in Alava is based largely on the acceptance achieved by its crianza wines (crianza wines spend anything up to three years ageing in cask and bottle before being sold), accounting for more than 40% of sales. Red crianza wine is the zone's most characteristic product, particularly in view of its increasing acceptance abroad, where sales of crianza from the Rioja Alavesa topped the 100-million-euro mark in 2006.


Compared to the 2003 figure, when exports brought producers of Rioja Alavesa wine nearly 91.7 million euros, foreign sales increased 9% in the last four years.


According to a report produced by the Basque & Navarra Savings Bank Federation, wine production in the Rioja Alavesa tripled over the last thirty years, with an average annual figure of 66 million litres from 1996 to 2000, when in the 1970s the figure hovered around 20 million litres a year. With production of 84.2 million litres, the year 2000 was something of a watershed for the area.

Growth in production is based largely on the broadening of the producers' target markets, which has led to a nigh-on fourfold increase in the region's commercialization capability, which has gone from an average 14 million litres in the seventies to the average annual figure of 70 and 80 million litres achieved in the last few years.

In line with the data provided by the Savings Bank Federation report, the Rioja wine industry has 600 bodegas in all employing 1,850 people, accounting for 8% of all jobs in the Basque agrofood industry.

The report also notes that some 110 million litres of wine are consumed yearly in the Basque region, as opposed to the figure of 140 million registered in the early 1990s. This is about 9% of the Spanish total. Consumption clearly exceeds production in the region, which means the Basque Country is at a deficit where wine is concerned. Consumers in the region tend to prefer wine from La Rioja, the reds from the Rioja Alavesa being the most in demand. The bar and restaurant trade is still Rioja wine's best outlet, accounting for 69% of its sales, as opposed to the 31% sold in shops and supermarkets.

 


RELATED LINKS
Rioja Alavesa - Asociación Abra
Rioja. Denominación de Origen Calificada
Business news

 

Source: Presidency of the Government- General Secretariat for Communication

Fecha de la última modificación: 27/01/2009