At a table, there are delicious food and cute culinary prepared. What else are things would be needed to have a perfect meal? Probably a drink. One of the common drinks paired with meal would be wine. Commonly, France would cross people’s mind in the first place for wine. However, did you know that Spain is also famous for wine? Spain is not only famous for Gaudi’s architecture, but also wine. Due to their fame and taste of nowadays, they are treated as a “hidden champion.”
|A team of reporters from Media Center of Dongguk University visited diverse wineries, related facilities, and a university in Spain from June 29th to July 9th to cover how Spain has become a leading country in the wine sector.|
How did Spain gain popularity
According to a report distributed by International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), Spain ranked the third place as a wine producing country. Also, Spain is the largest wine exporter. Being the largest wine exporter, wine from Spain could be seen easily these days. The fact that they had the largest vineyard in the world led people to be captivated with perception that Spanish wine is usually mass-produced wine and quality cannot be guaranteed. With such disgrace, however, Spanish wine overturned the prejudice by winning a lot of blindfold competitions. Then, with countries famous for wine, such as France and Italy, how did Spain become more and more popular around the world.
Cooperative is the best way to produce wine in a large scale
When running a winery, there are a lot of things to care about. Every condition of grapes such as temperature, region, soil, and so on is the determinant factor of the quality of wine. Such demanding job has led several wineries to flock together and become one under the name of a "cooperative." A dictionary definition of the cooperative is an enterprise or organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Especially when the size of vineyard is humongous, it is not possible to handle by one independent winery. Raul Jimenez, the Manager of the Export Department of Virgen de das Vinas Bodega Y Almazara, commented, “Virgen de las Vinas has 20 thousand hectares of vineyard, and controlling it is not that easy. Almost half of the Spanish wine is made in this area. So, we gathered and became as a cooperative. In our cooperative, there are 3,000 partner farmers to produce all kinds of wine.”
As a cooperative, there are a lot of advantages. The main idea lies on the “economic value.” Raul Jimenez explained, “As a cooperative, since we work together, we can become stronger and save money in production cost. It is easier to produce a lot more than doing it alone. This is due to our community that we become as a ‘cooperative.’ The partners share their knowledge and we, controlling department, set up courses regarding vinification. In this way, our wine becomes more competitive in the market.”
We trust in the value of people, when producing wine
Also, running winery in a cooperative has not only economic value but also social value. Regarding cooperative, Inigo Haughey of L’Olivera Cooperative and Can Calopa Winery commented, “As a cooperative, we are good in that we can create occupation and give opportunities to people who do not have a job.”
In L’Olivera, there are people who work there and live onsite to develop their wine. By living there, people become more passionate. As their mottos are “Brave, Tradition, and Innovative,” it seems to match with what they are doing. He further explained, “We tried to give chance to a lot of people growth with values. It is not our purpose to be a big one. We do not want to have our cooperative as a huge company. We want to provide many chances to help people with different capacities, not to sell more, but sell better.”
Originally there was the concept of a ‘cooperative’ 20 years ago, but it is different with what people of L’Olivera are doing nowadays. Back in the past, it was the system of a lot of different grapes belong to different vineyard. After that, none of the farmers were included in the wine producing procedure. Inigo said, “Here, in L’Olivera, we are a ‘working cooperative.’ All the workers are members and we have the philosophy of ‘It is our company.’ Whatever we decide, we do it together.”
With such positive stances, there was a negative point. It was the long communication channel, due to cooperative system. Inigo explained, “Since the cooperative is a group of people working together, there is a high chance that decisions are made slower than the others. Slower decision making is not good, since it lets people to hinder making quick reaction. For market these days, a lot of things change quickly, and time is related to market power.” Although there was a negative impact of cooperative, the reason why wineries are still sticking to cooperative management can be the cooperative way still works better for wineries since it makes people passionate.
The family-run business model is another effective way to run a winery
While running a winery as a cooperative can be effective, there is also another management method, which is a “family-run business model.” One of the leading wineries in Spain, Familia Torres, as noted from the name, is run by the Torres family. Torres winery, with its outstanding wine, “Mas La Plana,” received the highest honor at the International Wine Challenge. As such, Familia Torres is living up to its name.
Miguel A. Torres, the fourth generation of Torres Family said, “It is very very important to run a winery with family. For example, we usually make decisions and investments, thinking in the long-term. Since we are a family, we can wait for it. Important decision makings usually take longer than the usual to proceed. But in the case of shareholders, they want to see the result immediately. If explicit profit is not shown, shareholders might take back their investment. But we, as a family, do know and expect profit to come in the near future.”
Also, back in 1960’s the education of Spanish wine producing system was very poor. There was no university with the department of Oenology. As a result, Miguel A. Torres was dispatched to France by Miguel Torres Carbo, the third generation of Torres Family, to learn more about wine. At France, he got to learn more about techniques and became the first winemaker in the family. The idea of sending his son to study abroad ultimately made Miguel A. Torres to successfully inherit the Torres wineries.
A proper education leads to fostering wine-related professionals
With different ways to maintain wineries, there comes an education regarding wine sector. Universitat Rovira I Virgili (URV), which is the Public University of Tarragona is the first university to have the Faculty of Oenology. The Faculty of Oenology aims to nurture students in the field of winemaking, wine marketing and tourism.
Dr. Joan Miquel Canals Bosch, the dean of the Faculty of Oenology of URV, explained, “Back in the past, none of the universities had the Faculty of Oenology in Spain. Thus, we felt the necessity to found one since none of the universities had one. With such effort, we set up the Faculty of Oenology and equipped with necessary facilities.” As a pioneer of the Faculty of Oenology in Spain, they also had program for students in Oenology, such as internship. Regarding this, Pere Pons, a PhD student of URV, majoring in sparkling wine, commented, “I believe field experience is very important and can be a good basis for producing wine. Here, in URV, we have winery that students are free to do some experiment for it.”
Back in the days, as university set up the Faculty of Oenology for the first time in Spain, it was very uncommon. However, what Spain did to come up with education in Oenology was a step to make a new leap forward. Now, it has settled in Spanish society. Regarding this, Dr. Joan said, “Education is important. Our motto is to foster young students. The more prepared we are, the better our wine would be.”
This is a classroom in URV to taste and conduct an experiment for wine.
/Photograph by Kim Ji-min
According to a report distributed by Korea Agriculture Trade Information, one of the famous Korean Traditional drinks, Makgeolli is drawing a constantly decreasing slope. In 2015, the weight of export was approximately 14 thousand tons However, in 2019, it went down to the half, which is 7 thousand tons. The reason may vary. However, as what Spain did to their drink such as seeking for the management method and investment in fostering professionals, it might draw a positive slope again.
By visiting various wineries and URV, there was one thing in common; People were very passionate about wine. Marti, who works in L’Olivera Cooperative, has degrees in Oenology and manages to stay in Can Calopa to develop how they can make better taste. Raul from Virgen de las Vinas, said, he communicates with a lot of farmers about grapes. Miguel A. Torres visits a lot of countries to learn more about wine. Finally, Dr.Joan from URV goes to the vineyard for a week to teach students actually on the field. As such passionate efforts became one, Spanish wine of the present time has been made.
Kim Ji-min firstname.lastname@example.org
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