Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Salvador Poveda´s revolutionary change to wine tourism

By Emilio Saez van Eerd

Signs are not necessary to find the winery of Salvador Poveda in Monóvar. Just ask the inhabitants of the town for “la bodega de Salvador Poveda”, and if you´re lucky you will have your personal guide guiding you through the small streets of Monóvar all the way up to the entrance of the winery. Salvador Poveda´s history goes a long way back in this medium sized town in the interior part of Alicante, where once a few hundred small family wineries used to make traditional monastrell wines. Salvador Poveda, one of the wineries that survived, is now one of the most important exporting producers of the Levante.
A public street separates the old winery from the newer one. As we wait a few minuts for Rafael Poveda to pick us up at the entrance of the winery we enjoy the chaos of all the activities at a small square, a kind of public patio that even serves as an improvised company parking space that is surrounded by low buildings of Poveda´s winery. In a few minutes time we see several tourists loading up their trunks with cases of wine. Buying directly from the winery, for many tourists is the ultimate form of wine tourism. At the old winery of Salvador Poveda people buy a little bit of nostalgy and.. wine, a lot of wine!

Time does not play a role of importance at this square, accept for Rafael Poveda, who´s dying to start his brand new project. Rafael who runs the company with his brother (who happens to be the maire of the town) and two nephews, welcomes us, and leads us directly to the winery at the other side of the street. He is very direct and has no intention to waste his and our time. No small talk, he shows us inmediately the architect plans of his lastest project, a brand new winery outside of Monóvar. With Rafael talking with passionate enthousiasm about his new winery it is not difficult to picture the idea. Clearly, it is not just a new winery, it includes a complete change of strategy towards wine tourism.

Wine tourism in Alicante

He tells about a trip to California some three years ago and he was amazed about the business behind the Californian wine tourism. And as time went by, the idea of wine tourism in Alicante got a hold of Rafael. “I surprised myself, because if somebody would have asked him five years ago if I would turn this family winery in a wine touristic project, I would have turned down the idea. Even worse, I allways thought that passing tourists were a burden, that stopped me from doing my job. But when I came back from California I analized the sales figures generated by tourists. I simply could not believe that all the passing tourists that visited Salvador Poveda created enough money to pay the people working in the company. I secretly started to think: “what if Salvador Poveda creates a wine touristic project and attracts tourists from the nearby Alicante and Murcia coast to Monóvar”. Both cities lies at just 80 km from Monóvar. Geografically it could be a kind of ultimate wine touristic triangle.

From a strict business point of view, Poveda will have to leave the town of Monóvar after 85 years. The actual buildings are to small, trucks have difficulties to enter the small streets, and the winery has no more possiblities to grow in the small streets. The need for a change a simple business decision. Although many will see the sales of 6500 square meters of wine history in the old town as a lost, Rafael is glad he can leave and build a new future for the next Poveda generation. The benefits that generate the sales of that many square meters in the center of Monóvar are important to finance the new winery. The new spot was bought just outside the town. The new 30.000 square meters estate, named Finca La Rejuela, with great views on the mountains and into the valley, lies at the road from Monóvar to Novelda. Rafael says “I must have a clear view about all this, because the future success of the family business depends on this new winery. We are not a construction company that invests for fun in the wine business, we have to continue a company that has been been around with succes since 1919”.

As Rafael investigated the wine tourism future of Alicante, he came to the conclusion that if there´s any place in the Europe, were wine tourism could really have an impact, then it must be at the Costa Blanca. Millions of tourists already visit Denia, Moraira, Altea, Benidorm, Campello, Alicante, Santa Pola, Torrevieja, just to name a few hot spots at the coast of Alicante. And if there´s is one winery that has the potential to attract those tourists, it must be Salvador Poveda. Convinced of the winery´s new strategy, he asked a local architect to draw what he had designed.

The new wineryRafael suggests that we follow him to see the construction site. I have to do my best not to loose the view of his silver Golf GTI during the 10 minuts drive. “The new winery is like two minimalistic white shoe boxes, placed in a L-form”. After many years adapting his work to the winery in the narrow streets of Monóvar, Rafael this time prefers to adapt the winery to his work. “It will be very functional. Tourists who will visit the winery will have a complete tour through the company. The center of the new winery wil be an underground museum”, explains Rafael as he proudly shows us around on a windy but sunny day in March. His idea is to rebuild the winery’s historical fondillon bodega, now named “la sacristía” and to expose the old equipment, old barrels and even a ancient XVII century olive oil press that was found some years ago after rebuilding one of the old wineries in Monóvar. Of course the underground museum will be connected to the Salvador Poveda wine shop. From there, the visitors can chose to have a picknick in the garden of the winery, facing to the South, protected from the Northern winds by the winery. Because the area where the winery is being built, is slightly higher than the rest of the area, the views from there are simply astonishing.

When this project is finished Spain and Alicante will position itself at the frontline of wine tourism. In a press note of 2004 placed at the Salvador Poveda´s website I read that the winery should have been ready at the end of 2005. Finally at the end of 2006 Salvador Poveda will leave the the small streets of Monóvar. Several five star hotels at the Costa Blanca are calling Rafael on a daily basis just to ask him if they can finally send that bus full of tourists to the winery. Rafael normally tells them that the winery is not yet ready for it, although he could beter tell them is already booked until the end of the year. After “sun & beach toursim”, the traditional tourism at the Costa Blanca, wine tourism has the best potential to be the second most interesting form of tourism in Spain. Only a few areas in Spain have organized their wine route, but that in itself is no garantee that the wineries are prepared to practice wine tourism. It is not a question of opening just a few bottles, pour the wine and present a price list. Rafael is aware of that situation. He will have to attract well skilled staff, oriented to service and tourism. It is a new type of industry in Spain, with new rules, where wine and pleasure still have to get used to each other.

It´s unbelievable that the authorities in Alicante have not invested before in wine tourism. I remember entering the tourism office some years ago in Alicante. I asked the lady for wine information, which wineries I could visit as a tourist. Exactly one winery had left some brochures, the same brochures you would receive on a internacional wine fair for profesionals. A year later I went back to the same office to ask about the posibilities to visit a winery. This time I receive the same brochure again and.. a real list of 7 wineries in the area, mentioning the name and phone number of the wineries. A real improvement, though! Forgive me for my enthousiasm about the Poveda project. I hope Alicante will wake up and attract tourists to the interior of Alicante, away from the crowdy beaches.

We end the trip to Monóvar with a classic alicantino meal, arroz, a typical rice dish from the interior part of Alicante. At the table we taste the Toscar Syrah, one of the new labels Rafael has added to his range of wines. Wine, food and tourism, Alicante has it all. And I wonder: "what if a leading and innovating winery like Poveda has discovered wine toursism as a very serious business model only three years ago, than just imagine how many other wineries in the area must be like".

Poveda´s new strategy again shows this family has the vision and the guts to pave the way for many other wineries. I have no doubt that Poveda will succeed in breaking open the wine tourism industry at the Costa Blanca, where million of tourist every year spend there holidays. Rafael should not forget to place enough signs from every busy coast town to Finca La Rejuela.
For more information about Emilio Saez van Eerd´s activities in Spain, click at and http://worldwinedatabase.comor contact directly


At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salvador Poveda y hermanos son unos peseteros que no te enganñen a ti tampoco

At 5:20 AM, Anonymous Lar said...

Hi Emilio,
I came across a Risling from Poveda which is pretty good. I've also had a few of the Toscars which were nice and great value.
What has been happening in Poveda since you wrote this?

At 5:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The new winery is fantastic! And the wine too!!

I recomend the Macabeo.

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous L said...

i would liek to find out more information about the Toscar winery in Alicante. I attempted to go on the website but it does not seem to be connecting. Do you know where i can find information on the winery history and structure?


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