Food & Wine



“We need to explain Catalonia’s wines better“

Alba Balcells (Linyola, 1986) has been the director of INCAVI since June; the institution has over 40 years of history

What is wine to Catalans?
Wine should be drunk in moderation and above all with respect, because it’s a product made with utmost care by producers who work all year round. Catalonia is a wine country, but also a country of vineyards, and now is a good time to acknowledge what we produce and show trust in our producers. Without farmers, the sector can’t survive, which is why we must not only understand sustainability as an environmental challenge. Economic sustainability is also needed, which means fair prices so grape production is viable and attracts a new generation.
Of every ten bottles consumed in Catalonia, six are non-Catalan wines.
Some 42% of wines consumed in our country are Catalan. While progress has been made, we must continue working to ensure that Catalan wines, which are excellent, are better known by local people as well as the people who visit. It’s time to educate, we need to explain Catalan wine better.
What’s being done to achieve this?
We need to make sure that a tourist from Bristol remembers that he drank a DO Empordà wine while in Cadaqués and that he can find it at home. We also want to bring wine culture to younger people, making wine present at events and concerts.
What is INCAVI’s main focus?
INCAVI’s main goals are to promote Catalan wines and make them more competitive; to work for the excellence of these wines, promoting research, investigation and technology transfer; and also to spread this wine culture and its Denominations of Origin (DO) system.
Is the wine sector in good health?
Yes. The wine sector accounts for 3% of all agricultural production and represents 5.6% of the total agri-food industry in Catalonia. We’re a small country but rich in terms of soil and microclimates, and this means that we can have 12 DOs and wines of the highest quality. It’s a dynamic sector able to overcome setbacks, such as last year’s mildew plague or this year’s drought. In terms of the climate emergency our strategy must be, in the short term, to do research and support the sector, in the medium term to establish a solid basis for promotion, and in the long term, and most importantly, we have to decide together how to generate more value by differentiating Catalan products and making our wines recognisable in the world due to their singularities.

Wine tourism key

Balcells says wine tourism is key for the sector: “Almost half of wineries now offer this possibility. More wineries are opening their doors to visits. And that’s vital. People need to know us if they’re going to love us. This is our main gateway to local people and those from around the world.”

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