I just need to get this off my chest and vent my frustration. In January, I wrote about the red tape that the Spanish authorities put in our way. I regret to say that less than six months on I’m writing about a similar experience.
Sometimes you feel so small. I usually do when I’m dealing with power-wielding authorities. But it’s different with Spanish authorities. I feel completely powerless.
You have to apply for permission to plant new vine stocks and you are notified in the spring each year of how much you are allowed to plant. The annual quota for planting stock is shared between all those who apply and you are normally only granted a fraction of what you applied for.
This year was the second time that we have applied and the second time that our application was turned down. The reason stated for rejecting our first application was that we had no sales. Well, what newly established company is able to do that when the wine has to mature for a few years before it can be sold? This year we made sure that we had sold some of our grapes so that we could report some sales and therefore qualify to plant new stock. Once again, our application was rejected. This time, the reason given was that, as the owner, I didn’t have any experience of wine production. But I’m not the one who plans and manages the practical side of the vineyard. That’s taken care of by a handful of experienced winegrowers who have been doing it all their lives. You could draw a comparison with a new managing director of a car company who is not allowed to expand the factory because he doesn’t have any experience of assembling cars!!
The rules of the game are constantly changing…I wonder what next year will bring? Of course, the authorities could make things easy for themselves by using the same lack-of-experience reason for many years to come. At least I’m doing something good when I apply for planting permission. Unlike in Sweden, it’s not free. You have to pay for the application. So I’ve sponsored the authorities with a bit of cash.
I’m not quite sure why we’re refused permission, but there’s no lack of experience in our team. Issues like these have a lot of political overtones and the local farmer is often favoured…
We now have 24 hectares, with vines growing on 14 of them and 10 hectares waiting to be planted. At the moment, I don’t know how I’m going to resolve this, but I’m a businessman and have built up many companies and I’m going to see this one through too. There are always solutions. You simply have to be patient and persistent in order to find them.
I’m going to conclude this blog with the same words that I wrote last time about Spanish bureaucracy. We love Spain and its people, but we don’t love everything….