The investigative judge of the Audiencia Nacional, Spain's supreme court, José Luis Calama, has summoned the CEO and president of the Félix Solís group, Félix Solís Yáñez, and the president and founder of the García Carrión group, José García-Carrión Jordán. Various Spanish media outlets report that they are to testify in a case of alleged fraud involving the wrongful designation of Crianza, Reserva, and Gran-Reserva wines between 2017 and 2019. The investigation was launched in 2021. The case caused significant discord within the DO Valdepeñas at that time. Both companies accused the other of releasing more wine with the respective barrel aging designations than they could have produced based on the available barrels. The judge initially responsible at the regional level had passed the case on to the Supreme Court.
Summons in December
José García-Carrión Jordán is to appear in court on December 4th, 2023, with Félix Solís Yáñez following on December 11th. Some of the companies that make up the two wine conglomerates are also being charged, but have not yet received summons dates. In addition, the regional certification bodies Sohiscert and Liec Agroalimentaria are being accused of potential complicity in the crimes, as Spain's oldest business newspaper Cinco Dias reported. Fernando Martínez Arroyo, Agriculture Minister of Castilla-La Mancha since 2015, is being summoned as a witness.
The two Valdepeñas wine giants seem to be heading for further legal troubles: According to Cinco Días, the "Unión de Uniones de Agricultores y Ganaderos" announced further legal proceedings against both companies in the food control authority "Agencia de Información y Control Alimentarios," which is subordinate to the Ministry of Agriculture. The reason: both corporations allegedly paid grape producers amounts that were below production costs, thus violating the "Ley de la Cadena Alimentaria", a law that regulates relationships between suppliers, wholesalers, and buyers within Spain and the EU. Moreover, according to usually well-informed sources, Félix Solís recently filed a lawsuit against García Carrión for unfair competition.
The accused deny the allegations
In response to inquiries from the German wine trade magazine Weinwirtschaft, Félix Solís emphasised that they have consistently cooperated with the judiciary throughout the investigation and will, of course, appear in court. They trust the judicial system and are confident that the matter will be resolved as quickly as possible. The annual quantities marketed by the company were always properly reported to the official bodies of the D.O. Valdepeñas. The alleged discrepancies are attributed to the fact that wine stocks in storage were not taken into account, and they are optimistic that this will be proven during the investigation.
No statement was obtained from García Carrión by the editorial deadline. However, according to the portal Europapress.es, which cites a company press release, García Carrión has denied any involvement or responsibility, stating they will take all necessary measures to prove that the company's activities were all lawful. VM