The so-called cava war in Spain has recently added a new chapter with the ruling of the Supreme Court that agrees with the Junta de Extremadura in its battle against the Ministry of Agriculture for benefiting, in practice, the Catalan cava sector against the interests of Extremadura and Valencian. The Valencian Government did not then resort to a legal modification that gave the Regulatory Council of the Denomination of Origin – in the hands of the Catalan sector entirely – the power to decide on the production of vineyards throughout Spain, so it now proposes a third way which seeks to close the confrontation in the sector in exchange for Catalonia renouncing its monopoly.
“We want to advance in a model of more participation of the territories and we believe that there is a predisposition, so we will request by letter to the plenary session of the Regulatory Council to study that there is a representative with voice and vote of the sector in each area,” he advances in statements to news agencies David Torres, general director of Rural Development at the Department of Agriculture.
The Valencian Government has been working for some time with the idea of going to a model in which not only does the vote of the traditional Catalan sector count, which in recent years has advocated limiting the production of vineyards so as not to sink the price of bottles of cava. This has particularly affected the rest of the producing areas (Requena in the Valencian Community, Almendralejo in Extremadura, and the Ebro area), which are in full expansion and with the capacity to multiply their number of bottles.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Ministry must consult the autonomous communities on this matter, and not rely solely on the criteria of the Regulatory Council, the Valencian Community wants to take the opportunity to redefine the correlation of forces in the cava industry. This is also demanded by the Valencian sector for the Valencian Association of Farmers, the Government “must take the initiative in the cava war without giving up all control to Catalonia”, something that in 2019 was interpreted in terms of political cession by the Government by Pedro Sanchez.
The Valencian proposal involves incorporating four members to the plenary session of the Regulatory Council, one for each area in which the sector has been divided into Spain. They would thus join the ten industry representatives that the Regulatory Council already has, and who was elected in the last elections. However, the latter are representatives only of the Catalan cava sector, which is obviously the majority.
According to Torres, “it is a necessary debate because each area has its own characteristics and interests, and it would not break any balance.” Ultimately, Catalonia would maintain control within the Regulatory Council. However, ensuring that all territories have a vote necessarily implies a modification of the regulations of said body.
“There is not much room for maneuver,” assumes Emilio Exposito, president of the Requena Cava Producers Association. “We demand to have more representation, but it depends on the Regulatory Council itself agreeing to authorize this representation of all areas. It is also true that in the Valencian Community, unlike what happens in Extremadura, the debate has been opened on the advisability of expanding the production of vineyards and, consequently, of bottles. That is to say, both the Government and the sector understand that a balance must be maintained between supply and demand to avoid falling prices, in line with Catalonia’s approach.
In Requena, we can double the number of bottles, but the real problem is how to sell more bottles “, synthesizes the general director of the Department, who recognizes that having authorized more hectares these years would have directly affected prices.” The limitation that was raised was positive, he insists. Another very different thing is that for this decision only the opinion of Catalonia ended up counting. Exposito also emphasizes that “if more is planted, there will be surpluses.” Hence, it demands from the Ministry – “now that it has power over the plantations again” – an updated study on demand and supply. At the moment, in Valencian cava more is produced than is bottled.