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Rioja strategy bears fruit as domestic sales strengthen

Published:  09 February, 2016

Sales of Rioja hit a record 388 million bottles in 2015, with domestic growth for the iconic Spanish wine region matching export growth for the first time since the recession.

The results suggest that the Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja's strategic plans are coming to fruition.

The Consejo Regulador has made expanding sales of white and rosé wines a priority, having introduced new grape varieties in 2007.

Sales of white wines were up 14% last year, and rosé up 17%, although red wines still account for 89% of all Rioja purchases.

The Consejo Regulador has also focused on its premium Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva aged-wine categories, which collectively rose by 1.6% to 160 million litres.

While Crianza accounts for some two-thirds of sales in these categories, Reserva recorded the highest growth last year, rising 3.6%, with some 62% of sales in export markets.

José Luis Lapuente, director general of the Consejo Regulador, said the figures showed "the progress achieved in the strategic objective of focusing sales on higher added value wines - the Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva categories - whose sales grew in both volume and value."

The UK remains Rioja's most significant foriegn market, accounting for 34.5% of all exports.

Other key international markets include Germany, the US and Switzerland, while high growth in Ireland and Canada - 42% and 23% respectively - has led the Consejo Regulador to target those countries with promotional campaigns.  

Rioja is responsible for some 41% of all Spanish wine exports by value and 31% by volume, with a an average bottle price 30% above the mean.

"Achieving this milestone in the current circumstances," Lapuente said, "is due to the great strength of the Rioja brand and to the Rioja wine industry's ability to adapt to market demands with a dynamic and innovative model which offers both confidence and security to consumers.

"Rioja has managed to increase [export] sales in both volume and value, which is quite different from the Spanish wine industry as a whole."