The 216 members of the Bodegas Familiares de Rioja (BFR) organization are exiting the decision-making bodies of the appellation, the Consejo Regulador and the "Interprofesional del Vino," according to various Spanish media outlets and Decanter. The reason for this departure is the current direction of the DOCa, which according to BFR, is overly focused on quantity rather than quality and ignores the voices of small and medium-sized producers.
However, the producers intend to continue using the appellation's origin label. “We will not leave Rioja. What we are leaving is the administrative body, the table where the decisions are made. We believe that the decisions they make go against the interests of the vast majority of wineries in Rioja,” says Juan Carlos Sancha, the Vice President of BFR.
More voting rights and less mass production
Founded in 1991, BFR represents the interests of smaller family-owned wineries in the region. According to their own statements, they make up more than half of the producers in the DOCa but only have eight out of 100 votes and two out of 16 speakers in the decision-making body, as confirmed by a review of the control body. BFR sharply criticizes this system, which does not distribute voting shares equally among the businesses but favours large mass producers.
They demand a reweighting of voting shares in the decision-making bodies, in which the value of production sales, rather than the amount produced, should be the decisive factor. Additionally, they note that the increase in the price per litre over the years has been significantly below inflation. Large businesses are also criticized for continually buying more land despite overproduction and crisis distillation.
The current business model of DOCa Rioja is based on producing wines for grocery store shelves at dumping prices, which are not feasible for small and medium-sized wineries, says Juan Carlos Sancha.
The decision to temporarily withdraw from the boards was unanimously agreed upon by the BFR board and communicated to the boards themselves, as well as to the autonomous governments of La Rioja, the Basque Country, and Navarra on Wednesday, September 6, 2023. The Ministry of Agriculture has also been informed. VM