Judicial blow to the Government by preventing the expansion of cava in other Autonomous Communities in favor of Catalonia
The Supreme Court declares null the reform imposed by the Ministry of Agriculture, which gave all powers to the DO - in the hands of Catalan industry - for the regulation of plantations.
Judicial blow to the Government of Pedro Sanchez, which in its first months in Moncloa ceded the powers of regulation of cava plantations throughout Spain to the Regulatory Council of the Denomination of Origin (in the hands of the Catalan industry), in a decision that was interpreted in the sector in December of 2019 as a new assignment to obtain political considerations and thus settle in power.
This Denomination of Origin -based in Villafranca del Penedas has decided in recent times to limit the production of vineyards (production is frozen until 2022), which prevents the rise of communities such as Extremadura (bodegueros de Almendralejo) or the Valencian Community (Requena), that have been increasing the sale of bottles exponentially in recent years, to the detriment of Catalonia, a pioneer region and with a majority in said Council since the last elections of 2018, but which has suffered calls for a ‘boycott’ of Catalan products, as the DO itself has recognized.
The Regulatory Council has justified the plantation limitations to the implementation of a strategic plan that goes through adapting the supply to the demand and thus maintaining the quality and prices of the bottles packed with the Denomination of Origin label . The goal: not to devalue the product. Catalonia has approximately 30,000 of the 37,955 hectares of cultivation with a denomination of origin that exist in Spain, while in the Valencian Community the figure is approximately 4,000 and in Extremadura, about 1,400.
In December 2019, it was approved that the rights of new vineyard plantations to produce cava in 2020, 2021 and 2022 could only be extended by 0.1 hectares for each of the three annuities, which in fact represents a production freeze.
In a ruling made public this Saturday, the Supreme Court has fully upheld the appeal presented by the Junta de Extremadura against the modification of Royal Decree 1338/2018, of October 29, which regulated the potential of wine production.
The Extremaduran administration had requested the High Court to declare the reform null and void, since it required the Ministry to accept the recommendations presented by the Cava Denomination of Origin Regulatory Council and deprived the Autonomous Communities of the possibility of issuing reports against those recommendations, as had happened historically.
Specifically, by means of this ruling – before which there is no recourse – the Supreme annulled two articles of the Royal Decree by which the Ministry eliminated said consultation to the communities and also establishes that the decisions on the restrictions of replanting and new plantations in Denominations of Origin of a supra-autonomous nature, -such as that of Cava- must be established not by the Regulatory Council -as established by the Royal Decree- but by the Ministry of Agriculture. It is up to the public administration, therefore, “to which corresponds the presentation of the request with the necessary information that demonstrates that there is an objective risk of devaluation of the production, to proceed to adopt new restrictions”, according to the sentence .
The Supreme Court ruling fully upholds the appeal of the Extremaduran executive and declares the reform invalid, in addition to ordering the State Administration, the Agrarian Union of Unions Organization (which supported said reform), and the Council to pay the costs. Regulator.
The DO Cava approved in May 2020 unanimously the segmentation and zoning of the sector with the idea of highlighting the origin and territory of cava. Due to the pandemic, it has also applied a historical restriction, limiting production to 10,000 kgs. of grapes per hectare (before it was 12,000). Furthermore, it stipulated that the cava zones were divided into four: Comtats de Barcelona; Ebro Valley, Almendralejo Vineyards and the Levante Area.
According to the latest official figures, the DO Cava has some 6,582 farms spread over seven autonomous communities (Catalonia, Valencian Community, Extremadura, Aragón, La Rioja, Navarra and the Basque Country), which group this product in 37,955 hectares that they produce approximately 249,500 bottles (66% of sales abroad). Of the 374 wineries registered in the DO (4 of them Extremadura) and 214 manufacturing companies, according to the data on the DO website itself, where it is added that its main function “is to guide, monitor and control the production, elaboration and quality of the protected wines “.