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Extremadura Cava producers challenge Catalonia in fight for further planting rights

Published:  22 November, 2017

Cava producers in Extremadura, South West Spain, are fighting a move from the Spanish government to ban further plantings of Cava grapes until beyond 2020.

Almendralejo in Extremadura, has become a new fertile ground for Cava producers who are expected to produce six million bottles of Cava this year alone. Plantings of Cava grapes have almost tripled in Almendralejo, over the past three years to nearly 1,400ha.

Cava’s regulatory board in Barcelona told Harpers that it was holding talks on 22 November with the Spanish government to discuss controversial restrictions on plantings of Cava grapes in Extremadura.

Local authorities in Extremadura have meanwhile, announced a move to back local producers by challenging the government’s decision. Producers in Extremadura have voiced concerns that they will not be able to meet growing demand for their Cavas and that restrictions on plantings would favour Cava sales in rival production areas in Spain.

Cava’s regulatory board, however, has expressed concern over the impact of any increase in the production of Cava, which it believes would lead to the devaluation in prices and thus further tarnish Cava’s historical image in the UK of being a 'low-cost, big volume' sparkling wine.

The vast majority of Cava in Spain is produced in Catalonia, but now Extremadura is providing a fresh alternative to Cava for UK wholesalers and supermarkets.

Most Cava from Extremadura is consumed in Spain, although the increase in production in recent years has encouraged exports to the US and Northern Europe.

The Spanish government's moves to restrict plantings in Extremadura comes amid a rise in production in Valencia where producers are hoping to increase Cava production from six million to seven million bottles this year.

In recent years, the Cava Regulatory board and producers in Catalonia have launched campaigns to raise the image and quality levels of Cava including this weeks’ UK launch of the new super premium, single vineyard Cava de Paraje Calficado classification which currently includes 12 Cavas from Catalonia.

“An increase in production could lead to a fall in prices,” said one Catalan Cava producer.

Although some Gran Reserva Cava is produced in Extremadura, most production is large volume entry-level Cava.

Under Spain’s Cava Denominacion de Origin rules, the municipality of Almendralejo has been authorised to produce Cava, under the traditional method, since 1985.

“These Extremadura Cavas would be of interest to UK supermarkets but not independent importers,” said one UK importer of Spanish and Portuguese wines.