Fernando Rodríguez de Rivera Cremades, grandson of founder Javier Cremades de Adaro and third generation at the helm of our winery, took over as general manager in 2007. He immediately had to deal with a financial crisis that undoubtedly helped him to keep a cool head during the next big downturn: the pandemic. However, daring to believe in oneself, as one can read on the label of our Adaro, the wine that is a tribute to our grandfather is a determining factor when it comes to entrepreneurship. And also the learning that comes from each mistake and never losing sight of the company’s ultimate goal. That is why, during these bad times, he has reinforced the vision of our brand, Pradorey, rather than changing it. We remain true to ourselves and never enter into price wars. We are committed to value-added products focused on the end consumer, so we can convert our customers into fans of our brand. We retain planned investment, even if that may seem a little crazy, in products such as our white wine cellar and new plantings. We maintain, and even expand, the number of employees on our team; a fundamental part of this great family. We diversify and rebalance channels, since, especially during the first months of the pandemic, everything was turned ‘upside down’.
In 2019, we had grown by 16% over the previous year, reaching €7,646,000 in ordinary wine sales. With the 2020 lockdown, our sales dropped by 25%. Taking into account that, in 2019, there were sales of wines that have been discontinued, such as Pradorey Verdejo, Pradorey Sauvignon Blanc and Pradorey Verdejo Selección Especial, all made in Rueda, the drop in sales does not even reach 20%.
In 2020, the year started off like a rocket but, from March onwards, the lockdown produced a collapse of the value chain in large food chains, prompting consumers to look for online alternatives to their usual shopping channels. The winery had been investing in the online channel since 2016, so the pandemic caught us very well positioned and we took advantage of the pull. While the average growth rate for the sector was 60-100% (the different studies consulted differ in the percentages), our sales rose by 135%. Our online store alone grew by 222%, but so did platforms such as Bodeboca or Amazon, where we had already been investing for some years. We went from a turnover of almost €270,000 in 2019 to almost €632,000 in 2020, growing by a further 5% in 2021. Another good fact was that, despite the global effect of the pandemic, we were able to maintain sales in export markets. This aspect was not minor, since, in addition to the closure of emerging markets such as Asia, one of the most important destinations for Spanish value-added wine, Latin America, also came to a standstill. However, the company’s long-standing commitment to finding multi-purpose importers who would proactively work different channels (particularly online), together with the ongoing search for greater capillarity in international markets, enabled the company to manage through the situation. A gradual reopening in 2021 resulted in a 32.5% growth. These good figures, however, did not absorb the effect of the closure of the hospitality industry, where we lost 50% of sales.
In 2021, with the experience that Fernando gained from managing the previous financial crisis and with the objective set on the company’s vision, the winery closed the year with a 25% growth compared to 2020 and, if we remove the effect of selling Rueda wines, that growth is almost 11% over 2019. The key has been to focus on the sale of value-added wines (terroir, signature or icon wines), which have grown by 57% compared to 2019; to diversify and rebalance channels and to focus on direct sales which, today, excluding food channels, already account for 15% of the winery’s total turnover.
These numbers reinforce a statement with little scientific rigour but a lot of business acumen that Javier Cremades told his grandson and that he has never forgotten: “I’ve always relied a lot on intuition, and I don’t think I’ve done too badly that way.”