European fuel strikes: a first hand report from Spain

Some of you know or remember Ryan Opaz. He was the manager of a local wine shop in the west metro of Minneapolis until a few years ago, when he and his wife decided out of the blue to pack up and move to Spain. Ah youth! They didn’t even speak Spanish at the time! Anyway, after landing in Spain and not finding a job in the education field, Ryan put his wine knowledge to work and has become one of the top wine bloggers around, at Catavino.net.  He was the first wine blogger to focus on Spain and Portugal, and as a result he’s getting over 15,000 hits a month.

Recently, he did a great job of explaining the fuel shortage and strikes in Spain and Portugal and how it is changing daily life over there. Tens of thousands of independent truckers want contract guarantees that shield them from fuel cost fluctuations. The government on the other hand, believes in a free market system. It’s a stalemate, and the truckers are on strike. Try shipping a few hundred cases of wine 600 miles to the shipping port when you can’t find anybody to drive the vehicle!

When you buy wine directly from Europe, as we do, this becomes an immediate part of our (and therefore your) daily life.

Take the time to read the article — it’s very worthwhile — and if you knew Ryan shoot him an email. He’s doing a great job keeping us up on the Iberian Peninsula.

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2 Responses

  1. Hey thanks for the mention! But I need to make one correction this post was done by my lovely wife, and if I don’t give her credit I could fall victim to cold shoulders and dirty stares! 🙂 We are unique in that we both contribute and generate for the site. Thus making us one of the few blogs done by a couple!

    As to the crisis, it’s very odd what is going on, and wineries surprisingly are not as bothered as I would think they might be. Not to mention with risiing fuel costs I want to see how that translates in the vineyards, with mechanical equipment, and such.

    Question back at you, what are you seeing as far as price changes? and can you relate them to issues to do with transportation or is it more the Euro/dollar relationship.

  2. It’s much more the Euro/Dollar relationship. We’re looking at about a 90% change in buying power over the last eight years, and most of the price increases hit hard in early 2008. For many years the wineries and importers were absorbing the weak dollar for us, hoping that the economic tide would turn. In the fall of 2007 we started to get word (as most distributors in the United States did) that starting in January of 2008 the ‘corrections’ would be made.

    It’s tough when you see a wine go from $10.99 to $15.99 overnight, but we’re countering it by finding new wines that nobody has ever seen before, combined with direct importing.

    As far as the gas strikes go, it has simply become more difficult to consolidate and ship containers. The delay is frustrating at times, but not the end of the world.

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