Alexandra is the co-owner, together with Margarita Madrigal and Gonzalo Rodríguez, of Bodegas Más Que Vinos (Ercavio). After studying Hotel Management in Germany and Austria, Alexandra managed the Buitenverwachting restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa, from 1991 to 1994. From 1995 to 1997 she studied Oenology in South Africa (Vergelegen Wine Estate) and Germany (Schloss Vollrads and Weingut F. Becker) before setting up Bodegas Más Que Vinos (Ercavio) in 1999.
Más que Vinos recently celebrated 15 years in the market. What milestones would you like to mention during the brand trajectory?
We at Más Que Vinos, that is, Margarita Madrigal, Gonzalo Rodríguez and I, met while we were oenologists working as technical advisors to wineries. In no time at all we became friends and without giving it much thought we decided to make our own wines, create our own wine brand in a winegrowing region that was underestimated at the time and which did not have a reputation for quality wines.
We felt a little bit like Don Quixote, not so much fighting against windmills, but rather against the poor image that the wines of Castilla La Mancha had at the end of the last century. I believe that during the 15 years we have been making wine here in La Meseta de Ocaña, we have been able to demonstrate – not just to the Spanish, but also to the rest of the world – that with a clear philosophy, vocation, total devotion, and good vineyards, you can produce wonderful wines in these lands. Our wines are currently consumed in some of the world’s best restaurants.
You have recovered native grape varieties for winemaking. What value does this contribute to the brand?
We have always worked with native grape varieties. We hardly use any foreign ones at all because we are convinced that traditional grapes best reflect the terroir and climate, and embody the authentic flavour of the region. We have not followed the fashion of working with foreign varieties, and this is what differentiates and sets us apart from many other wineries. We see it as our duty to recover old varieties that are almost in danger of extinction; it is our way of keeping regional traditions alive and, in such a globalised world, this is highly appreciated both at home and abroad.
You are present in more than 25 countries. What promotional strategy do you use for international markets?
From the outset, we have seen ourselves as a winery destined to export. We were fortunate enough to be able to enter the German, U.S., Japanese, Belgian and Swiss markets relatively easily and we never considered major retail outlets as our target. We have always sought out small and medium-sized importers who distribute to haute cuisine restaurants and hotels, wine stores and delicatessens. This is what has brought us success and, during the course of the past 15 years, our customers have become our friends, and have every confidence in the quality of our products. We really spoil them and help them promote our products, but they know how to handle their markets and we do not interfere in this area.
What are the main selection criteria for deciding what new markets to enter?
We try to enter new markets, but not at any price. There are countries which, because of our philosophy, do not interest us. We will not engage in price wars, for instance; we only want to be where we are sure our partner will respect our products’ reputation and our brand and will act as our ambassador in that country.
In what markets are you most successful?
We are very well represented in Germany (we are a Spanish-German winery) and we try to take extra special care with this market, not just because it is where I am from, but because it is a very interesting market; it is mature but still has a lot of untapped potential. We are also very well positioned in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Brazil, Switzerland and Belgium, as well as in markets that are new to quality wines, such as Korea, Russia and China.
What kind of consultancy service do you provide to other wineries? Does it entail management of the brand and internationalisation?
The advice we provide is purely technical, that is, it relates solely to oenology and viticulture.
What are the challenges facing the company over the next five years?
An important challenge for us is to be able to strengthen the Más Que Vinos brand both in Spain and abroad.