Rueda ramps up focus on exports

09 November, 2020

The Rueda wine region plans to significantly ramp up its focus on export markets after overhauling its Denomination of Origin regulations.

Rueda has enjoyed exceptional growth in the domestic market over the past decade. It is now Spain’s leading region for white wine by a comfortable margin, but just 13% of production is exported. That reliance on the domestic market leaves Rueda exposed at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has caused such uncertain trading conditions, and it is now determined to diversify its sales mix.

“The consumption of Rueda wine has been increasing in Spain, and production has sold out each year,” says Santiago Mora, director of the Rueda DO. “It’s a complete success, but at the same time you forget about exports. We are exporting right now to 93 different countries around the world, but you are not focusing especially on these markets.

“Diversification is key. The wineries now understand that much better than before. Producers of young white wine think that the short-term is the most important for them. They focus on local markets, because it’s easier and faster. Creating a strong presence in international markets comes from long-term investment. With this new situation, investing in export markets is becoming more important. It’s the moment to get deeper in these markets.

“We are focused on promotional and education activities in export markets. Trade education is our main objective in the coming years, especially in the UK and the USA.”

The first wines in a new category called Gran Vino de Rueda will be unveiled in April 2021. The grapes for these wines must come from vineyards that are at least 30 years old, the yield must be lower than 6,500kg per hectare and the processing ratio is set at just 65%.

The updated rules see the return of Rueda Pálido, a traditionally crafted wine, while Vino de Pueblo calls for at least 85% of grapes to come from a stated village. Viognier and Chardonnay are now permitted, but Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc must remain the main white varieties.

Mora hopes that the Gran Vino de Rueda tier can help the region carve out a reputation for quality in key export markets. “We have been receiving great scores from the main publications all over the world,” says Mora. “The scores are increasing. The best places to present these wines are the UK and the USA. The most important influencers are located in these areas. And of course, in Madrid. Right now, Madrid and the Basque country are the biggest consumers of Rueda wine.

“We should be able to increase our presence in export markets, especially in the north of Europe. Those markets are eager to receive quality white wines – the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, and also the USA and Canada. We are trying to focus on 10 top white wine markets. In an economic crisis, consumers will want reassurance and confidence that they are buying a quality label, and great price to quality ratio. Value for money is more important than ever. We are famous for young, fresh wines, but at the same time the quality, the versatility and the capacity for ageing is very important.”

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