Coping with changes in a sector in crisis: the case of small Spanish wineries
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From a century-old artisanal way of making wines to the recent establishment of designations of origin, the wine industry in many European regions has been facing increasing demands, in a continuously changing wine environment. Today, many more wine regions are competing for consumers' dollars, are confronting lack of generational renewal or are facing swings in wine consumption. So, how do winery operators, particularly those running small or family businesses, cope with the new developments occuring in the world of wines? The present study examines these issues from the perspective of a group of Spanish wine operators. General agreement exists regarding the opportunities that arise from the modernisation of the local wine industry, with stricter quality controls, mechanisation and other aspects facilitating the transition from making wines for household consumption to making commericial wines. Despite the gravity of current threats, most operators have planned and are implementing specific long-term strategies to maximise potential opportunities, including product quality and diversification. However, investments are very costly for many small wineries to sustain. Thus, it is argued that the wine sector and government bodies will need to intensify efforts to improve infrastructure, marketing, education and other areas to assist winery operators to confront challenges and achieve long-term survival.
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