In August 2020, growers in the expansive Spanish appellation of Valdepeñas went on strike; two of Spain’s largest producers, Garcia Carrion and Felix Solis, wanted a discount of 30 percent levied at the standard price for a kilo of grapes. The buyer’s rationale was simple: Covid-19 has decimated wine sales to the Spanish hospitality sector, while bulk wine exports fell by 17.7 percent in volume during the first half of 2020.
After some difficult negotiations, both parties settled on raising grape prices by 27 percent over the initial offer made by GC and Felix Solis. The town at the heart of the dispute, Valdepeñas, is situated in Spain’s main bulk wine region, Castilla La Mancha. A barren and arid region found south of Madrid, it accounts for almost two-thirds of the production of cheap wine.
Yet the region’s most ubiquitous grape variety, Airén, was curiously excluded from the bargaining agreement.