Profile de membre VINEX en vedette
The Manjavacas Cooperative has grown from when it was first established in the La Mancha region in the heart of Spain in 1948 to become one of the key players in the area with growers covering some 6,300 hectares of vine.
As well as being highly respected for its wide range of wines from across La Mancha, across the major commercial price points, the cooperative is also working with growers and producing wine from Tierra de Castilla IGP/PGI and varietal wines.
VINEX was able to catch up with Juan Fuente Rus, general manager of the business, at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition.
Tell us about the cooperative and its position in La Mancha?
We are the fifth largest cooperative in the region and now produce, on average, around 50m litres of wine a year. Up to 90% of the production is for bulk win and the rest is bottled. We have in recent years been able to build up our bottled business in Spain, but our main focus is increasing our international markets, which accounts for around 90% of the wine we produce.
What are your key overseas markets?
We have worked hard to build good contacts and relationships in all our international markets, but we have had the most success in France Germany, the UK and Sweden. Our strategy is slightly different to the other co-operatives as we are always working to creating a final product.
How many growers are you working with?
We have a network of 750 growers who are supplying us with 17 different grape varieties, of which 70% are white and 30% red.
You have a big focus on organic production as well. Tell us about that?
It is very important to us and also increasingly for our customers as well. We are building and growing our organic wines all the time, thanks to using a wider base of organic vineyards. Around 25% of the vines we work with organic and we want to work towards them all being organic in time. It is easier for a region like La Mancha to be organic than it might be for other areas that have bigger changes in the weather and climate. It’s very much the way the overall market is going so we need to adapt and be ready for that.
How easy is to get your growers to look at organic ways of working with their vines?
That’s a good question. They are aware that the target is for us to have more organic wines every year. The big issue in the past has been working with older winemakers who do not see the reason to change, but it is a lot easier now working with new, younger generations when it comes to changing to organics.
We are here talking at the World Wine Bulk Exhibition - why do you attend the show?
It is a very important event for us. It allows us to meet all our main customers and present to them our latest wines and products to taste. It is also a good fair to make new contacts in different markets. Every year we are seeing more buyers attend from different countries and markets.
You notice any particular trends in the bulk wine market at the show this year?
We have been coming since the first fair, and the number of buyers increases every year. Like this year we have seen a lot more buyers from the US. That’s not normal. More US wineries are coming as they need to look for bulk wine to add to their portfolio.
Any particular new markets you are looking at?
Not specifically. We certainly want to grow our export business, but we are interested in all markets.
What are the biggest challenges you are facing in La Mancha?
The biggest issue we face is the number of growers that are changing and passing vineyards on to younger generations, or not at all. There are now more younger people leaving the area who are not there to take the vineyards on. So it is getting harder for some growers to continue.
Which markets are offering you the best opportunities?
The US and Canada are particularly strong for us. Also in northern Europe, across to Russia and into the Baltic States. China is, of course, a potentially important market, but we are not so sure at the moment about working there.
Are you changing the way you make wine for different markets?
There are not that many differences in styles between the main markets, but we are looking more at alcohol levels and now have a number of wines at different alcohol levels, but also in terms of acidity and tannins. That’s what different markets are looking at. There is not one generic requirement, which is why it is good for us to have a different range of wines to suit different customers.
What is your split between bulk and bottled wines?
It is probably a 90/10 balance. Our objective, though, is to increase the bottle production. You just have more control over your own bottles. That said it means you have to hold more in stock and you have to be careful about that.
What is the 2019 vintage looking like?
We are down a little bit on our average production by around 15%. But it varies varietal to varietal. There has not been much change for generic reds and whites. But the quality is a little better than on average, which is particularly pleasing.
For more information, contact your VINEX Regional Manager here