27-08-2018 ~ 2 Comments

#sademoji, Catalunya loses its cellar lead

Well, Catalunya ain’t Number One anymore; at least in terms of Spanish regional cellar totals. State government statistics have come out that at last official count, there are 606 registered cellars in the Autonomous Region of Catalunya–although in scratching out the numbers I know, I come up with more for some reason (*). But, according to these given stats, Castilla y León just barely passes Catalunya with 609 cellars in total.

Oh don’t worry, no one is going to come anywhere near the biggest producer of wine in terms of volume which is still Castilla y La Mancha with over 2 billion liters flowing out annually although the vast majority is in bulk and often sent to France to be attacked by masked wine bandits at the border.

No one should actually be sad about this turn of events as Catalunya is still a leading producer of wine in Spain. In fact, there’s been a steady increase from 509 to 606 cellars over the last decade for a net gain of 16%. The catch is that while Catalunya opened 97 new cellars in this time, Castilla y León opened 131 so they were bound to overtake.

It’s interesting to look at the hard numbers behind this and when you do, it’s amazing that Catalunya has been at the top in terms of cellar numbers for so long. Castilla y León has three times more area than Catalunya 95,000km² vs 32,000km² respectively and 50% more vines, 75,000ha vs 52,000ha. So there’s plenty of raw material for a great many more cellars in Castilla y León were there the entrepreneurial folks willing to do it and apparently there have been to in some regard as they’ve seen 27% growth in the last 10 years. The issue of course is a problem of who is going to work there?

Castilla y León is vast and bigger than nearly half the actual countries in the world including neighboring Portgual. But, it’s sparsely populated at 2.5 million residents whereas Catalunya has three times that at 7.5 million, essentially flipping the same proportions of land and population between the two. So, if you wanted to open a cellar in Spain, it appears Castilla y León is open frontier.

To bring everything into perspective, the total number of registered cellars in Spain now sits at 4,373 but this is a bit misleading as these are registered cellars and then there are registered “cellars”. These are the many projects that are completely separate from a physical cellar but making use of another cellar’s space. I don’t know of any easy way to figure out this total this as even I count as an officially registered entity to produce and sell wine despite the fact I never have and I must be one of thousands.

But wineries, while contributing to the overall income of the state, are not huge employers in terms of raw numbers. To anyone who has suffered to try and book a tour in Spain, you’ll not be surprised to find out that about 1/3 of all the cellars in Spain have only one or two very overworked employees (usually the owner and his or her spouse.) A touch over 1% of Spanish cellars have up to 100 employees and then there are just 13 cellars in all of Spain that employ up to 200 people. Only one cellar counts more than 500 employees and I doubt that anyone would be shocked to find out that it’s Torres.

Ultimately, it’s always a bummer to not be #1 but, we’ll always have Priorat #happyemoji.

* Cellar totals:

  • DO Cava – 230 (actually lower due 5% of cellars not in Catalunya)
  • DO Penedès – 140
  • DOQ Priorat – 100
  • DO Montsant – 60
  • DO Terra Alta – 51
  • DO Empordà – 42
  • DO Costers del Segre – 37
  • DO Conca de Barberà – 31 (actually lower due to ‘nursery’ shared space)
  • DO Tarragona – 31
  • DO Pla de Bages – 14
  • DO Alella – 9
  • DO Catalunya – 226 (but this overlaps all of Catalunya)
  • Total – 745
  • Total w/DO Catalunya – 971