Sparkling Cava wine has become an emblem of Catalonia as one of the strongest exports from Spain’s northeastern region. Over the last decade, annual shipments of cava have climbed about 50 percent, to 161 million bottles.
Which is why cava’s producers show no desire to embrace the Catalan secessionist drive that is posing a serious challenge to Spain’s central government, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Toni de la Rosa Torelló, whose family has owned its winemaking estate since 1395, said that “making the most representative product of Catalonia does not mean we want to be represented in this political debate.”
José Luis Bonet Ferrer, the president of Freixenet, the largest producer of cava, said, “Businessmen have the right to worry if politicians create tensions rather than seek dialogue.”
The attitude of such Catalan executives matters because a key premise in the secessionist argument is that Catalonia, which accounts for almost a fifth of Spain’s economic output, would flourish economically if it broke ties with the rest of the economically lagging nation. Some businesspeople are not so certain.
It is not just the cava vintners saying this, but also executives from the spectrum of industries that make up Catalonia’s 200 billion euro economy, roughly equivalent to that of Portugal. The region blends a powerful financial-services sector, led by the big bank La Caixa, with a strong industrial base that includes traditional sectors like car manufacturing as well as scientific research and medical technology.
[…] As for the cava makers, Mr. Bonet Ferrer of Freixenet, which is based in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, said companies in his industry had extra reason to be cautious. They stood on the front line of any consumer-led boycott if political tension between Madrid and Barcelona continued to mount.
His personal view on independence? “Catalonia is an essential part of Spain,” Mr. Bonet Ferrer said, “and that is how it should continue.”
Política aparte, tuve el placer de tener a Bonet como profesor de Economía Política y he de decir que —no es peloteo, no necesito nada de él— es uno de los mejores profesores que tuve, por su calidad académica y, muy especialmente, humana. No sólo tiene aire bonachón, es que es un trozo de pan.