2016 – A Year of Significant Growth for ARAEX

President & CEO Javier Ruiz de Galarreta outlines the Spanish fine wine’s brand roadmap for consolidation

The pre-announced strategy of ARAEX Grands to achieve major growth 2016-2018 is paying off, as its results from 2016 reinforce the success of the company’s business model. Javier Ruiz de Galarreta founded the ARAEX group almost 25 years ago, bringing together nine small and medium wineries from the Rioja Alavesa region. He went on to create Spanish Fine Wines in 2001, a second union that grouped other wineries from other respected Spanish regions. Today, Mr Ruiz de Galarreta continues to create new wine ventures, characterised by quality, global projection and respect to the roots and identity of Spanish vineyards. From the production of prestigious wines to the organisation of tasting panels, Araex-Spanish Fine Wines Group’s activities stand out for their excellence and vision. Among their latest initiatives the current collaboration with world renowned winemaker Michel Rolland is especially remarkable. We asked Mr Ruiz de Galaretta how the idea for ARAEX originally came about.

I read the report of an international consultant on the corporate structure of the wine sector in DOCa. Rioja, which concluded that the sector was too fragmented to effectively affect the markets. So I decided to create the Rioja Alavesa Export Group, whose acronym is Araex, an instrument which was dynamic and large enough to enter international markets.

When did you decide to create a second support pillar?

The creation of Spanish Fine Wines in 2001 allowed us to optimise our structure and design a comprehensive global Spain-wide portfolio with a specific positioning strategy for each of the Rioja Alavesa brands: Labastida, Montebuena, Baigorri, Luis Cañas, Amaren, Altos R, Heredad de Baroja and Lar de Paula.

What is your secret to the future success in the marketing of Rioja wines?

We must flee from standardisation. Rioja has a strong image. It is the most important collective trademark in Spain. And that, paradoxically, is also the problem. Our task is to manage the offer by segmenting it, because we cannot enter the markets today with a collective trademark without providing a segmentation by different levels.

How is the export potential of Spanish wines developing?

Spain has always been valued for its export volume, not for the quality of its products. For a producer country, the pricevalue ratio is still excessively good. And I used the word “excessively” on purpose, because the prices of many Spanish wines are too competitive compared to similar products from other countries. But that is changing now. Markets are accepting a slow increase in the prices of Spanish wines. In the future, the growth of Spanish wines will be achieved through the value of the product, not through volume. But that requires a better positioning of the wines.

What’s new at Vinexpo this year?

Araex and Spanish Fine Wines will be marketing The Grand Wines’ products: Villa Conchi cavas, which brings together five types of cava; a Vino de la Tierra (quality wine) under the Gran Sello trademark; and the R&G project, which stands for Rolland & Galarreta. R&G has given me the opportunity to work with Michel Rolland, the best known wine producer in the world as a fully integrated partner, not only as a consultant, and produce a wine from each of the three growing regions, Ribera del Duero, Rioja and Rueda, under his direction. Last October, our triplet produced 800,000 bottles. About 450,000 are Rioja Alavesa R&G. This is clearly an ambitious volume, but the prospects are excellent, especially because these Premium wines have an unbeatable price-value ratio. R&G will soon become one of the leading Spanish brands in the Premium wines market.

Hall 1, Stand CD136