VALENCIA – The wine sector in the Valencia region is struggling. While expectations in Castellón province are still encouraging and a grape harvest similar to last year’s is expected, the overall outlook for the Valencia region is bleak.
First of all, grape production in the region has fallen significantly due to unfavourable weather conditions. In the Utiel-Requena wine region, a drop of some 60% has even been recorded.
The main cause of this drop in production the persistent drought, although hail damage has also been reported in some regions. This decline has been observed not only in Utiel-Requena, but also in other production areas such as Hoya de Buñol and Vinalopó in Alicante, with declines of 30% and between 30% and 40%, respectively.
Moreover, winemakers in Vinalopó face additional problems due to attacks by the common green leafhopper on vine leaves. This can affect production and the quality of the wine produced.
Current grape prices, despite the drastic drop in production, have not shown a commensurate increase. In regions like Utiel-Requena, prices hover between €0.18 and €0.27 per kilo, figures not seen for more than 30 years.
The drought has increased production costs by about 30% compared to the previous season. An autumn without rain makes the future uncertain for winemakers. Furthermore, there is no new generation ready to take over wineries.
Dominant market position of big wineries
Large wineries have also been criticised. By taking advantage of their dominant market position, they are said to have reduced the economic viability of small farms. Moreover, the government has failed to protect the interests of winemakers.
Call for support
Despite these setbacks, the Valencian wine sector has not received any specific economic aid, either because of the drought or the conflict in Ukraine, unlike other production sectors. Advocacy group LA UNIÓ is calling on regional agriculture minister José Luis Aguirre to provide support to the grape sector, one of the hardest hit sectors at the moment. The conditions that have reduced the profitability and thus the income of wine growers would justify support. Although the regional agriculture minister made certain promises after visiting hail-affected areas, so far, there has been no follow-up.