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A mainstay of the Spanish wine industry for the last 100 years has been the cooperative, which freed small farmers unable to afford winemaking equipment from being forced to sell their grapes to the local senor at whatever price he wished to pay In the days when growers were simply paid by the kilogram for their grapes, the co-ops worked splendidly. However, as demand for bulk wine fell and quality became paramount, badly run cooperatives, with low yielding and badly sited vineyards, became insolvent.

A new generation of entrepreneurs has grown up since the beginning of the 1980s, either buying up old cooperatives or contracting them to produce quality grapes. At the same time, the price of new-technology winemaking equipment has fallen to the point where quite small companies can afford to buy it.

Spanish wine companies are usually known as bodegas. A bodega, literally, is an above-ground wine store, in contrast with a cava or below-ground cellar. Cava wines are so-called because, needing long storage at low temperatures, sparkling wines are stored in the cava, while still wines in cask, which benefit from atmospheric changes through winter and summer, are stored in the bodega.

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