In January, we were guests on an American press trip to visit a Cava producer located in the heart of Cava Country. Of the journalists who joined us, many had visited Spain previously, though very few had visited the regions dedicated to cava production. They did, however, boast of thoroughly enjoying Cava, but conceded that it had a bad reputation as a “bargain wine” in the USA; and while even at the bottom end, the wines were fun and drinkable, it was a pity that no one was familiar with high end cavas.
Unfortunately, most Americans can only relate Cava to Cristalino or Black Label Freixenet, period, end of story.
At one point, the question was posed to the group how one might sell high end cavas in the US market, to which the winery representative suggested that they merely needed to spend more money to get their best wines on the top shelf. For a winery with ample disposable cash, this is a pretty standard line, but unfortunately, I couldn’t agree entirely. If a high end Cava goes on the top shelf alongside a long lines of Champagnes and Proseccos, it won’t sell. Rather it will stick out like a sore thumb among it’s better known neighbors.
When the question came my way, I suggested that the winery teamed up with various Cava producers to create a “Top Quality Cava Shelf”, maybe even with a fancy name and logo. You would then have a quality brand to justify high end retail shelf space to highlight the quality that is high end Cava.
The winery representative’s response was, “Yeah, I think the smaller producers would benefit from that, but we don’t need to, as you know.”
I’m here to call BullS***! What is wrong with this statement is that Cava as a whole needs the big guys and and small guys to work together to sell Cava as a brand. Why? Because there is no brand “Cava” in relation to the high end or top shelf status. Not to mention that the diversity that exists at this level, making high end Cava interesting, cannot be shown without a larger group of producers!
That “High End Cava shelf” is worthless without a diverse and varied profile and one big producer will not succeed on their own. The small guys provide diversity, and the big guys provide connections to get on the shelf! Collaborate! Create a brand for the wines and sell them as a group.
I know this is contrary to cultural practices, but if you are not going to work with your fellow Cava producers to create a strong overall Cava brand that values the high end and the low end, than give up and quit complaining that you can’t sell “high end bottlings”. We, the consumer, want choice, clear messages, and a sense of place. Right now, we’re getting a black bottle of Freixenet, no story about what you are, and even less about where you come from.
It’s time for a change.