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Spainish government offering subsidies to distil grapes into brandy

The Spanish government is offering grape growers subsidies to destroy part of this year’s bumper harvest, or distil grapes into brandy, due to a drop in wine sales brought about by the pandemic.

Part of Spain’s bumper 2020 grape crop will be turned into brandy

According to The Guardian, to avoid a glut, €90m is to be spent on either the destruction or the distilling of grapes into brandy and industrial alcohol.

The government has also lowered production yield levels across the country, with limits already imposed in two of Spain’s key wine regions: Rioja and Rudea, and also on producers of Cava.

As reported by The Guardian, the 2020 grape harvest in Spain is expected to produce 43 million hectolitres of wine, which exceeds the country’s annual domestic and international demand of 31m hl.

Since March, Spanish wine sales in the local on-trade have sunk by 65%, while exports have also taken a significant hit, falling by just under 50%.

“Within a month we’ll be harvesting an abundant crop at rock bottom prices, and if no measures are taken, wine sales are going to deteriorate,” Fernando Villena, president of the Asaja farmers’ union in Castilla-La Mancha, told The Guardian.

Carlos Bonilla of Bodegas, president of the DO La Mancha regulatory board, added: “World wine consumption is down 10%. Meanwhile, we are producing more wine per hectare, so unless consumption goes up, we will have to regulate production.”

To add salt to the wound, there is also a question mark over whether Spanish producers will be able to recuit enough pickers to harvest their grapes next month due to coronavirus fears.

According to The Guardian, grape growers in Penedès, where the lion’s share of Cava is produced, are also battling the worst mildew attack in 30 years, which has decimated entire vineyards in the region, with premium producer Juve i Camps particually hard hit by the fungus.

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