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Catalonia slows down the growth of cava | Economy

A vineyard of the Cava denomination of origin, in 2021.
A vineyard of the Cava denomination of origin, in 2021.

As in 2022, the planting of vineyard areas dedicated to the production of grapes for the production of cava can only be increased by 0.1 hectares in 2023, 2024 and 2025 according to the decision of the Regulatory Council that must be respected by the Ministry of Agriculture. This position is defended by this organization made up mainly of Catalan farmers and industrialists, where most of the wineries and cultivation areas are concentrated.

The decision has been rejected by the only representative in this body of the farmers and industrialists of the Valencian Community and Extremadura. Specifically, in the areas of Requena (Valencia) and Almendralejo (Badajoz), which want to continue increasing the area under which grapes are cultivated for cava. As on previous occasions, it is not ruled out that the Junta de Extremadura go to court.

The debate continues on whether or not to increase the area can cause surpluses and with it a drop in prices. The Regulatory Council has reinforced in recent years the measures to bet on quality, with new qualifications and a reduction in the supply of grapes, lowering yields per hectare to 10,000 kilos. On the other hand, from the opposite positions, especially from Extremadura, it is estimated that sales are working according to the data of the Regulatory Council itself with increases in income in 2021 and in 2022, so there should be no obstacles to increasing a quality offer.

The current production of grapes for cava with designation of origin extends over an area of ​​more than 38,000 hectares, of which some 30,000 are located in Catalonia. The rest of the crops are found in other autonomous communities, highlighting some 4,500 hectares in the Requena area and another more than 1,400 in Almendralejo. There are also other areas with smaller extensions in Rioja, Navarra, Aragón or the Basque Country, in a total of 159 municipalities.

Cava has some 350 cellars including producers of cava and base wine for cava, with productions, depending on the year, between 215 and 260 million bottles. Of that figure, 70% are exported. The sector closed 2021 beating its all-time record with 252 million bottles shipped (+17%) despite the slowdown caused by the pandemic during the final stretch of the year, its peak season with between 30% and 40% of sales.

Since last June, the Regulatory Council of the Cava Denomination of Origin has, after four decades of existence, a member who has not been proposed by the Catalan entities, who have taken it up to now. A candidacy of independent winegrowers from Requena (Valencia) and Almendralejo (Extremadura), the most important producing areas outside of Catalonia, came as a surprise and won one of the 12 seats on the board that were put at stake in the elections held this summer. .

The current community regulations for the control of wine potential do not allow the total prohibition of new vineyard plantings, but contemplate a maximum annual increase of 1% on the surface as of July 31 of the previous year. In recent years, based on a 2018 royal decree regulating wine potential, the Cava Regulatory Council, as a supra-autonomous entity, had the capacity to submit a recommendation for new authorizations to the Ministry of Agriculture on which it decided the department located in Atocha, headed by Minister Luis Planas. Since 2019, these types of regulatory councils have the power to decide on authorizations for new plantations. For all vineyard areas, Agriculture proposes an increase of only 0.15%.

At the beginning of December, a ruling by the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid was known that endorses the right of the Valencian cava to use Requena in its commercialization. The courts sided with the cava makers of that autonomous community and allowed them to use the Requena brand to market their sparkling wines with reference to the area in which they are produced.

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