Wherever you live in Spain, the last few weeks have seen some of the highest temperatures of recent years. Scorching heat in the day and torrid nights where the temperature rarely drops below about 28ºC. And of course, yet more forest fires. In fact 2022 has been one of the worst years on record; by mid-July more hectares of the Spanish countryside had been destroyed by fire than during the whole of 2021.
The roll-call of areas scorched by the flames goes on and on and covers much of mainland Spain and the islands too: Las Hurdes, the Monfrague park and the Valle del Jerte in Extremadura, Sayago and the Sierra de Culebra in Zamora, the Sierra de Salamanca, Tenerife, or the hinterland behind Mijas where dozens of Brits have been evacuated from their homes. Our thoughts go out to all who have been affected and we hope that those reading this email are doing so safe and secure in their own homes
The ferocity and destruction we’ve seen in recent weeks seem to have sparked fresh debate on the need to actively manage the countryside. Marc Castellnou, one of Catalunya’s most experienced firefighters, describes today’s fires as far more intense than before, and has called for a properly structured rural economy with resources dedicated to managing the countryside throughout the year.
Spain’s legion of grape growers and winemakers are a key part of that rural economy. Their day-to-day work clearing and maintaining vineyards helps clear away combustible material and reduce the risk of fire. Understandably given their livelihoods depend on it, many have been raising their voices and calling for more action to prevent destruction on such a massive scale happening year after year. For those who live and work in the countryside, incomes depend on monitoring weather patterns and knowing when it’s going to rain or how severe drought is going to be.
Of course, calls for action will only get somewhere if Spanish politicians stop finger pointing and actually do something to manage the countryside. So far, we’ve seen little grounds for optimism. With average temperatures on the rise globally, not just in Spain, and extreme weather events ever more common, let’s hope our politicians start to take climate change more seriously and shift the focus more towards planning ahead rather than clearing up the damage afterwards.
In the meantime, here at Simply Spanish Wine we’ll carry on doing all we can to support the c. 8 million people who live and work in rural Spain, wine growers and winemakers included, who do what they can with limited resources to manage the countryside and sound the alarm.
It’s in no way making light of the situation by saying that when you buy a bottle of wine (from anyone – not just us), you’re putting much needed money back into that rural economy, helping ensure people stay living and working in the countryside and helping to counter some of the terrible impacts of our ever-changing climate. Worth remembering next time someone tells you wine is just a luxury.