When Barry Brown, the current chairman of The Spanish Wine Society of
“At the time in the early 80s – Barry Brown stated – Spanish wines, except for Sherry, inexpensive Cava and a few Rioja bodegas, were considered ‘less’ than most other European wines”. It was during that time that this Canadian, a family therapist by profession and an extremely active individual in the wine enthusiast community of
The Spanish Wine Society of Canada was created with the aim of enhancing the work already carried out by ICEX in the country, which focused on promoting Spanish wine culture in
Thanks to the support received from the country’s community of wine enthusiasts, as well as from several wine writers, Barry Brown managed to establish his association in collaboration with ICEX, which included affiliated branches in another five Canadian cities. The first event held by The Spanish Wine Society was in February 1984 which brought Canadian consumers in contact with wines from Miguel Torres, including two ‘Coronas’ from 1953 and 1955. From then on, several themed tasting events based on wines from different Spanish appellations were held on a yearly basis, which “exposed members to regions, bodegas and wines they had not heard of prior” Barry explained.
In 1995, Barry Brown registered The Spanish Wine Society under his own name in order to carry out his work with greater personal freedom, the association being the only non-profit organisation of its kind to date. In addition to the numerous yearly wine tastings, which generally feature around eight wines from a particular Spanish wine region, having showcased close to 30 appellations in almost three decades of history, the association also offers organised trips aimed at discovering the relationship between region, culture, and wine. Currently, The Spanish Wine Association boasts around 240 members, of which “The majority…are interested consumers…people who wish to learn about the wines of
Barry Brown has been a direct witness to Spanish wine’s evolution, not only in his own country but also on the international scene. In this respect, Barry vividly recalls events such as the surprise generated around the world when a Miguel Torres’ wine ‘Gran Coronas
After having been the driving force behind the promotion of Spanish wines via his association for almost thirty years, Barry Brown is convinced that the best and most economical way to market a bodega’s wines is via the affiliated branches of the society he heads. “[T]he bodega nor the region is responsible for the cost of the venue, the food or the marketing of the event. This last method of utilizing established wine societies to promote and market a bodega’s wines is not the fastest…but the process assuredly puts the bodega’s products into the hands of interested and paying consumers”. Furthermore, the events organised by the association are generally a hotbed of opinions and often boast the presence of Canadian importers and hospitality professionals.
In addition to showcasing wines, a little after its foundation The Spanish Wine Society started to organise trips to
And finally, Barry summed up his love affair with Spanish wines in his own words: “I am at home in