Ricardo Migueláñez. Although a few months had passed, we'd like to congratulate him on being named President of DO La Mancha. You're not just a little bit worried about taking over from Gregorio Martín-Zarco?
Worried? No. But I have a lot of respect for my predecessor. Gregorio did a great job leading the Designation of Origin and, clearly, the possibility of following in his footsteps fills me with pride and admiration. Indubitably, although La Mancha has a long historical tradition, there's still plenty of scope for growth in certain markets and we're very excited about that. Moreover, an interest in wine is starting to become visible in society.
With regard to the Regulatory Council, I believe that Martín-Zarco laid the foundation and we're planning the journey, but there are still a lot of challenges and objectives ahead of us. As a result, it's essential that the entire sector gets involved—wineries and winemakers.
R.M.- In a DO like yours, with so many producers and winemakers, how do you find a balance where they allow the Council to do what it has to so as to lead them down the right path?
That balance is part of La Mancha's nature, which includes its diversity and capacity to change and adapt in offering quality to all markets around the world. The Interbrach of La Mancha's Regulatory Council gives priority to tasks such as consensus, which is perhaps the key so that everyone (wineries, cooperatives, association and farmers' organizations) feel like they're in this together.
R.M.- Despite all the progress made in recent years, perhaps the Council is now ready to join the big leagues?
I think we're already in the big leagues in some parts of the world, where we are viewed from a more objective, unbiased perspective. It's still challenging to enter certain parts of the market, such as supermarkets and the Spanish HoReCa channel, especially in important areas for us like Madrid, where there is still competition and you have to work twice as hard to gain a foothold, especially considering the downward trend in consumption in Spain.
I am certain that our efforts over the last few years will bear fruit, but not as fast as we would like because perhaps our progress was slightly slower compared with other areas. Fortunately, globalization has enabled us to be successful in other markets more quickly, with more positive progress. In China, for example, which is enormous, we are the leading Spanish DO in sales, competing with French, Italian, Chilean and Australian companies.
R.M.- Each president is different, and that sets the tone for the Regulatory Council. What do you believe needs to be done going forward with DO La Mancha?
Maybe other people could answer this question better, but I'm optimistic and I believe that the values that define me are: youth, enthusiasm, passion for winemaking and wine, dialogue, hard work and tenacity. I'm also a very active person by nature and I like to spread my enthusiasm wherever I go. I have no doubt that a new age is beginning in a Council and with a team that is well aware of the project and extremely motivated. In face, that's one of the main ideas. If it ain't broke don't fix it, but at the same time it's important to be ambitious with our objectives.
We will continue to dig deeper with promotion in the most direct channels, such as social media. We will try to position wine was a responsible but fun product, which is very popular among young adults, appealing to consumers from La Mancha's love for their region, as they appreciate top-flight wines made in their hometown, their province and their region.
R.M.- You've made a lot of progress outside Spain in recent years, but in Spain, don't you think more can be done to better position your wines?
We're working on that! Although it doesn't seem like we get much coverage because it's hard to stay in the spotlight if you don't have a large budget for promotional activities, we are making progress in certain niches, such social media. We have thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where we are very active and have considerable virality. This allows us to react the final consumer directly, creating proximity with wine in different contexts: gastronomy, leisure, relaxation, friends, partners.
We are also committed to creating proximity with consumers in Madrid, so we attend presentations, fairs and different activities several times a year. It requires patience and the results probably won't be visible for decades.
R.M.- DO La Mancha wines are known for their quality, but what do consumers need to fully appreciate them as quality wines?
I agree that they are known for being high quality. Therefore, it's more a question of confidence—they have to take the first step and order a glass or open a bottle. For sure, those who try it and then find out how much La Mancha wines cost are pleasantly surprised. Still we need to get opinion leaders on board and convince people that La Mancha is growing. And that doesn't happen by paying a ton for advertising without having defined strategies. That would be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. We don't have as many financial resources as other rival DOs have, so we have to be as efficient as possible.
R.M.- Before we finish, tell me: did Gregorio Martín Zarco offer any advice?
Yes, of course. Me becoming President of DO La Mancha is part of a fluid transition which is largely in line with the project he started. That being said, there are always new challenges, as we are always ambitious in our objectives, given our potential.
In the case of Gregorio, more than offering specific advice, I will try to follow his example as the head of the Regulatory Council, as he exemplified hard work and enthusiasm, both professionally and personally.