In 2020 the sales volume of Rioja wines will fall by around 10% compared with the previous year while turnover will go down by 12% to 13%, constituting a much better result than could be expected in any scenario following the outbreak of the pandemic. “The brand’s prestige (the best refuge at critical times) and the resilience shown by Rioja during this period have been key, as demonstrated by the fact that the wineries haven’t applied the strategy of dropping their prices to sustain the market. “I think we’ve managed the crisis quite well and, despite the negative results for the year, we’ve done better than had been expected”, stated José Luis Lapuente, the General Director of the Control Board, in an interview published on 27 December.
According to Lapuente, “although the situation isn’t the same for all the wineries, as those most dependent on the hospitality industry have really suffered, the sector has displayed maturity by reducing its supply and reached agreements to ensure less production and postpone the new plantations until things improve.” In short, he believes that the most important aspect of such a difficult campaign for both vine growers and wineries is that “Rioja has managed to adapt to these uncertain times, demonstrating that it’s based on solid ground.” Although the figures aren’t going to be as good as those in a normal year, “you could say we’ve saved our bacon.”
“We definitely expected quite a lot in 2020, with the new wines from specific zones or towns, Viñedo Singular wines (from exclusive vineyards or estates) and sparkling wine products that are already on the market. However, the pandemic thwarted everything and in 2021 we’ll still be dependent on how it controls things, together with exogenous factors such as Brexit and the US tariffs”. In spite of all this, the Board’s General Director is optimistic about the coming year because Rioja has shown that it’s a strong brand. “I wish we could sell at a higher price, and that must be the main objective, but at the most critical moment we’ve shown that our value for money is almost unbeatable; on equal terms, very few regions in the world can provide what Rioja has to offer.” On a positive note, he also pointed out that the white wines will witness sales similar to those recorded in 2019, which is excellent news according to Lapuente, as “it shows that consumers appreciate the great range of whites that Rioja already has on the market.” He ended the interview by recalling that 2021 is an election year for the Interprofessional Organisation and, therefore, for the renewal of the Control Board’s Management Body, an automatic process set to be completed by June to which all the organisations wishing to stand will be called from 2 January onwards.