Fernando Medina: Requena and Almendralejo break the Catalan monopoly and place a director on the Cava Regulatory Council | Economy

Hundreds of bottles of rosé cava rest in a cellar in Requena (Valencia)
Hundreds of bottles of rosé cava rest in a cellar in Requena (Valencia) Monica Torres

The Regulatory Council of the Cava Denomination of Origin will have, after four decades of existence, a member who is not proposed by the Catalan entities, which have dominated it until now. A candidacy of independent winegrowers from Requena (Valencia) and Almendralejo (Extremadura), the most important producing areas outside Catalonia, gave the surprise and won one of the 12 seats of members that were put at stake in the elections this Wednesday .

Fernando Medina, CEO of the Valencian winery Dominio de la Vega, will be a new member of the board after winning one of the places for independent winegrowers. “It was an anomaly that Requena, the municipality of the DO Cava in which the most families live from this, because there are about 400, did not have representation,” he says. Of course, it also has a point of self-criticism. “Sometimes we haven’t believed in ourselves,” admits Medina.

Of the nearly 38,000 hectares currently devoted to cava, nearly 30,000 thirty are in Catalonia, while Requena has almost 5,000 and Almendralejo about 1,500. On a census of 2,907 voters in the category in which they presented themselves, both localities had about 700. The candidacy managed to increase participation in their municipalities and tie almost all their votes, 208 of 2,014 in Requena, and 168 of 169 in Almendralejo , which allowed them to be the second most voted candidate and obtain a seat on the council.

A “good” but stormy relationship

Medina assures that the relationship between the members of the DO is “good”, although the reality is that it has been stormy from the beginning. With the entry into the common market, the DO Cava was created after France vetoed the term champagne and Requena and Almendralejo were left out despite the fact that they produced high-quality sparkling wines. It had to be the Supreme Court that in 1986 forced these enclaves to be admitted outside the Penedés area, where this sparkling wine began to be made in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia in 1872. The name, cava, comes precisely from the place where the bottles.

Both municipalities have been “the loose verse”, admits Medina. Four years ago, in full expansion, the Council got the Ministry of Agriculture not to allow an increase in the area under cultivation in Requena and Almendralejo, and a year ago it was the Junta de Extremadura that got the Supreme Court to revoke the agreement by that the Spanish Government ceded to the Regulatory Council the competence in plantations.

The dispute that was created when the Council prevented the Valencian wineries from selling their products as cellars of Requena it is still in court. “If within the council there is someone who can reasonably explain this type of situation, they can still understand it better. Until now we didn’t have it and we could only make cava and do it very well, which is what it’s all about”, he explains.

Now nobody considers increasing the cultivation surface and Medina arrives with other objectives: “quality and communication”, he summarizes. “The prosecco It was created in 2009 and has overtaken us by the right in a few years. They put 690 million bottles on the market compared to the 298 of the DO Cava, it costs less to produce and they sell it more expensively. We have to stop looking at our navel and learn to sell better”, he points out. This adviser also hopes to build bridges for the return of some of the most important brands that left the DO due to disagreements.

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