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February 20, 2023

Rioja reinforced its market position in Spain and grew in key countries in 2022

Vineyards of Rioja
  • The DOCa slightly increased its sales in the domestic market (+0.16%) compared to the previous year and managed to reinforce its market share by more than half a point
  • Internationally, Rioja wine exports grew in 7 of its 10 strategic markets, with Belgium (+27.13%), Mexico (+26.13%) and Switzerland (+7.14%) leading the increase
  • The negative situation for imported wines in the United Kingdom, together with Rioja’s heavy dependence on this market, is weighing down the Designation’s exports as a whole, which fell by 3% compared to 2021
  • Rioja white and rosé wines are consolidating their growth: their sales increased by more than 5% and 10%, respectively, overall in both domestic and international markets


20 February 2023.- The Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin closes the 2022 financial year maintaining the volume of sales in the domestic market. Specifically, it has recorded an increase of 0.16% compared to the previous year, according to the trade balance presented today at the Regulatory Board. This translates into a total volume of 148,865,558 litres sold on the domestic market.

In this regard, and according to an initial preview of the 2022 data recorded by the consultancy firm Nielsen -which does not measure wine shipments from wineries to sales channels, but rather sales to end consumers in the food and hospitality channels- the DOCa Rioja has grown two points more than total sales of wine with Designation of Origin (PDO), achieving a volume share of 27.7%, which represents an increase of more than half a percentage point (0.54%) compared to the previous year, reinforcing its market share. “The data for the second half of 2022 pointed to a significant slowdown in total wine sales in Spain, so the modest advance in Rioja’s domestic sales represents a reinforcement of our position in the market”, explained Fernando Ezquerro, chairman of the Regulatory Board of the DOCa Rioja, at the press conference held after the plenary session. “Despite the complex domestic situation, these figures underscore the confidence and commitment of consumers towards Rioja wines, even in times of uncertainty such as those that we are currently experiencing”, concludes the DOCa chairman.

By categories and colours, in the domestic market, the growth of DOCa Crianza wines stands out, with an increase of 2.62%, as well as the growth of white (5.62%) and rosé wines (1.70%). “Although everything seems to indicate a slowdown in wine sales in our country in the second half of 2022, Rioja has an offer capable of responding to the post-pandemic demand from consumers for greater quality and diversity”, Ezquerro explained.

The DOCa is making steady progress in key markets, despite the complex situation in the United Kingdom, which is penalising exports as a whole

Internationally, the behaviour of exports in the different markets is disparate. The Designation’s sales increased in seven out of ten countries identified as strategic, with Belgium and Mexico leading export growth, with +27.13% and +26.13% respectively. At a slower but still positive rate, Rioja exports increased in Switzerland (+7.14%), Sweden (+7.10%), the Netherlands (+6.85%), Germany (+4.86%) and the United States (+0.59%).

Despite this positive performance in foreign markets, Rioja sales fell in Ireland (-3.38%), Canada (-5.41%), -and other countries outside the top 10, such as Russia, China and Norway- and in Rioja’s export market par excellence, the United Kingdom, where they fell by 11.45%. In the absence of a detailed analysis of what has transpired in the British market, data from the consultancy firm Nielsen accumulated up to September 2022 show a general decline in sales of imported wine in this country, with significant falls in its main suppliers, such as Australia, Italy, France, Argentina and Chile, as well as in Spanish wines as a whole.

“Although this is a general problem in the British market for wines produced in Spain, the United Kingdom represents almost a third of Rioja’s export volume, which means that a decline in this market has a significant impact on Rioja’s export balance as a whole”, explained José Luis Lapuente, general manager of the Regulatory Board of the DOCa Rioja. The total volume of DOCa exports stood at 102,398,928 litres, down 3.11% compared to the previous year.

“Rioja’s significant exposure to the United Kingdom has penalised us in 2022; there is an adverse global context -with supply shortages, the energy crisis, conflict in Europe, etc.- to which this market is not immune, but specific aspects of the British situation after Brexit, the devaluation of the pound and the uncertainty surrounding the future tariff scenario, have seriously affected sales from foreign regions”, noted Lapuente.

Combining the international and domestic markets, the DOCa Rioja sales balance reflects a slight decrease of 1.2% compared to the previous year, with a total of 251,264,486 litres sold in 2022, which translates into 342,995,738 bottles. “The photograph reflects Rioja’s ability to maintain its competitive position in a market context full of uncertainties, or in other words, it once again demonstrates the resilience of our brand”, said Lapuente.

Fernando Ezquerro added that “Rioja has to deploy its full potential and rely on its arguments of value and quality to embrace sustained growth”. Indeed, the commercial balance shows that Rioja rosé wines have experienced double-digit growth: 10.34% in the overall market -foreign and domestic-, with a spectacular performance abroad, achieving a growth of 24.84%. On the other hand, DOCa Rioja white wines have a growth rate of around 6%, both in the domestic market (5.62%) and abroad (5.17%).

Concluding the press conference, José Luis Lapuente indicated that “the figures are not as positive as we would like and represent a gap with respect to the forecasts of our Strategic Plan, which is why it is necessary to reflect on the situation and accelerate the initiatives associated with this Plan in order to recover positions on the roadmap we have set for the year 2025”.

In this regard, following the presentation of the results to the media, the General Assembly of the Rioja Wine Interprofessional Organisation (OIPVR) was held, which brought together the entire sector to discuss a single point on the agenda: to conduct an analysis of the situation in order to accelerate the initiatives included in the DOCa’s Strategic Plan, responding to the uncertainty in several markets, to implement immediate measures geared towards the rebalancing of the sector, with the expectation of reaching the projected sustained growth.

Faced with uncertainty, Rioja is committed to continuing to generate value

The plenary session of the Regulatory Board of the DOCa held today also approved the amendment to the General Procedure for the Tasting Panel, implementing a new and advanced sensory quality control methodology for the wines of the Designation, which consists, on the one hand, in standardising the sensory parameters and attributes involved in the suitability of the wines to be assessed, defining with greater precision the quality required for DOCa wines, and, on the other hand, in the increased training and qualification of the members of the Tasting Panel of the Regulatory Board, through a training programme focused on the new sensory evaluation method. In short, this new system will bring greater guarantees and accuracy to the process, assisted by a new ad hoc technological system.

This is a ground-breaking project, developed in conjunction with the Instituto de Ciencias de la Vid y el Vino (ICVV) –Institute of Grapevine and Wine Sciences– with the aim of raising the quality standards of Rioja wine even higher and increasing its value, in a clear commitment by the sector and the Designation to continue working towards continuous improvement.


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