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Planting application rejected again!

Spanish authorities put spoke in wheel again.

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….

2 thoughts on “Spanish authorities put spoke in wheel again.

  1. This is par for the course. At an EU level, there are only 1% of new plantings allowed per region based upon the current total so in DO Montsant, that’s about 20ha new each year. It’s quite small but the idea is to stop rampant planting by speculators. Obviously this catches small projects like yours as well but it’s both one of the strengths as well as the weaknesses of Europe and why vineyard plantation is controlled so tightly as opposed to places like California where, due to plantings being largely unregulated in this fashion, unless you’ve millions of dollars to start with, it’s impossible to start there now.

    I have many friends in DO Montsant who are frustrated like yourself with the system so it’s not that you’re targeted because you’re a foreigner but just how it works and it’s very random. You coulr in fact end up with all the planting rights you want next year, or again, nothing. Explanation needs to be dealt with better but this is at a Spain level unfortunately…

    1. Dear Miquel,
      Thank you very much for your feedback and for explaining. I know it’s working like you are describing. The fact is that the reasons for rejection has been communicated by the local authorities like I’m writing in the blog. I sure hope it’s working like you are explaining and not like what I have experienced. I don’t feel targeted because I’m a foreigner. When I mention that local farmer are often favored, I mean local grape growing farmers and that includes for foreigners as well.

      Best regards,

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