3 expatriate wine entrepreneurs in Spain – InternationalLiving.com



“I am lucky at what I do. It is quite an honor.

Benjamin Franklin would have declared: “Wine makes everyday life easier, less rushed, with less tension and more tolerance. Not only is Spain a prime retirement destination, the wine industry produces top notch products and many expats around the world appreciate its offerings.

“It might surprise you, but next to its many attractions as an energetic, warm and affordable European destination, Spain has the highest number of hectares of vineyards of any country in the world,” says Cila Warncke , contributor IL. “It is one of the three largest wine producers in the world and the largest exporter in the world.”

“Above all, from the scorching plains of Andalusia to the misty and verdant fjords of Galicia, Spain is diverse. And with such a vast and downright huge wine industry, there are opportunities. Expats who work in the wine industry, or would like to do so, find the size and diversity of the industry to make it surprisingly accessible. Finding a profitable niche in the wine industry is a dream job.

The report details the newcomers who turned their knowledge and skills into successful wine businesses. Here are three expatriate success stories:

Adrian McManus – Owner / Guide: North West Iberia Wine Tours, La Coruna

The autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain enjoys a cool maritime climate that nurtures a dedicated food and wine culture. Adrian McManus arrived 30 years ago and found work teaching English at a naval base in Pontevedra. He also started writing for a travel magazine.

“It opened the door to hotels, restaurants and wineries,” says McManus. “When the magazine closed, I was like, ‘Why not use these contacts to open new doors?’ After co-hosting several tours, he decided to do it for himself and created North West Iberia Wine Tours. It is primarily aimed at wine lovers from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.

“Despite being a small corner of the country, Galicia has more than 65% of the Spanish grape varieties,” he says. “Plus, we have a history, a culture and some of the best food in the world.

Setting up a limited liability company (sociedad limitada, or SL in Spanish) involved approval from the chamber of commerce and a down payment of € 3,000 ($ 3,650) to start the business. “Taxes are a bit complicated,” he admits. “There is value added tax (IVA in Spanish) of 21%, plus about 15% income tax.” As the sole employee, Adrian has to pay a special self-employed (self-employed) rate for Social Security, around $ 485 per month, but which entitles him to a range of long-term benefits, including excellent coverage. health. In a typical year, he organizes tours between spring and fall. During the winter, he puts the business on legal hiatus, a standard procedure that allows seasonal businesses to evade tax obligations during periods of no income.

“Organizing tours isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme,” he says, but it does offer moments money can’t buy, like savoring fresh Atlantic mussels with a touch of local albariño. or take pop stars on a bodega tour. “I’m lucky at what I do,” McManus says. “It’s quite an honor.

David Forer – Master of Wine / Owner of Clos Salanca, Catalonia

In a previous life, David Forer lived in San Francisco and worked as a statistician analyzing clinical drug trials. Today he is a winemaker and owns a vineyard in the famous Priorat wine region in northeastern Spain. Between those two points, he spent seven years studying to become a Master of Wine, the toughest wine qualification in the world.

There was no plan per se; just a hope that his wine expertise would allow a career change. However, what got things started was moving to Barcelona with his family and networking there. “The vineyards do not come to the market,” explains Forer. “There are no ads, no brokers. You have to know someone who knows someone. He found his thanks to a friend who knew the former owner who was soon to retire.

“The deal almost failed twice,” Forer recalls. “Something that should have been simple accountants, registrars and notaries. The appeal of Spain, despite the bureaucracy, is that high-end wine real estate costs around $ 49,000 an acre, compared to $ 740,000 in the Champagne region of France or $ 500,000 in France. the Napa Valley in California.

When the first Clos Salanca vintage goes on sale in the fall, it will compete for market share with thousands of premium wines from around the world. Forer is not fazed by this. “Winemaking is a joyful thing,” he says. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be in it. “

Mark O’Neill – WSET Owner / Instructor: The Wine Place, Valencia

The Wine and Spirits Education Trust provides some of the most valued and recognized credentials in the global wine industry. When Mark O’Neill, originally from Northern Ireland, whose background was in fruit and vegetable retail, got his first job in the wine industry, his employer encouraged him to take his courses. . This done, he moved to Spain to create his own wine import / export business.

Once there, he spotted a gap in terms of wine education: “In my old job it seemed like everyone had a degree, but in Spain it was rare to have a formal degree. I’m someone who likes to try things out, so I booked a flight to London and signed up for a WSET educator course. It had been about 20 years since I graduated, so it was intense.

As he already owned a business in Spain, Mark was able to add WSET courses to his operation without too much additional paperwork. Running them is another matter, but it is fantasy for a wine lover. A clean, well-lit and comfortable space is a must; but more fun is to get the cases of wines approved for the tastings. Level 2 requires students to taste approximately 40 specific wines. Level 3 brings this number to 80 wines. Even as an importer / distributor, sourcing the right wines in the right quantities takes creativity and good relationships. Besides teaching and tasting, Mark also takes care of the payments, the distribution of course materials, the organization of the exams, their submission to the WSET for scoring and finally the happy moment when he presents certificates to the students. successful candidates.

“The job is ideal for someone who enjoys learning and teaching wine,” says Mark. “The biggest overhead is buying wine for tastings, and it really helps if you can partner with a wine merchant or distributor to help. And unless you can increase it, don’t expect it to be your main income.

What makes it worth it for Mark is sharing the enthusiasm of his students and seeing their knowledge blossom: “It’s a way to help people enjoy wine that they don’t have. never had otherwise.

The full report on Expat Wine Entrepreneurs in Spain can be found here: Expat Wine Entrepreneurs in Spain

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